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Moussaka is a Greek dish of usually minced lamb, aubergine, potatoes and creamy sauce that is baked in layers like a lasagne. I really think of this as Greek lasagne and it is every bit as good as that sounds.

 I almost always use minced beef here as it is a dish I cook for a crowd and not everyone seems to be keen on minced lamb. Whichever meat you decide to use know that this will be delicious. It’s a great make ahead meal once put together you can allow to cool then store covered in the fridge and give it the final cooking in a hot oven for a little longer until piping hot within.

The aubergine are usually fried in quite a bit of oil as they are like sponges and it seems no matter how much oil they get they will drink this up and require more it is for this reason I use a non-stick pan and coat in very little oil. You can and sometimes I need to add a little more oil between batches. Aubergines are almost always salted to draw out moisture and make them less bitter. I have never found this step necessary. However, I do salt here only because I want to draw out a little of the moisture in them. It is about the only thing that can ruin this dish is having too much moisture and it being a horrible runny mess although, it will taste just fine.

The bechamel sauce needs to be thicker than normal and also contain egg yolks which make it set like a savoury custard. You shouldn’t require any seasoning as the parmesan should add enough. I love breaking through the very thin cheesy crust that forms on the top of this, it brings me great pleasure like cracking through a crème brulee.

I serve this alongside some roasted baby potatoes which I scatter with crumbled feta and thyme/oregano when they have come out of the oven and a simple green salad.

Yields1 Serving

 3 Large potatoes (peeled and cut into thin slices)
 3 tbsp olive oil
 2 Aubergines
 1 tsp Dried thyme
 1 Large onion (peeled and finely chopped)
 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
 500 g Lean minced beef or lamb
 125 ml Red wine
 1 tsp Dried oregano
 1 x 400g canned tomatoes
 125 ml Beef stock
 2 Bay leaves
 ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
 100 g Unsalted butter
 100 g Plain flour
 650 ml Full fat milk
 60 g Parmesan (grated)
 3 Egg yolks
 Salt & Pepper

1

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Add the potatoes and 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the dried thyme to a large oven proof dish and toss to coat all potatoes in the oil and thyme. Place in the oven for 30 minutes,

2

Meanwhile, Thinly slice the aubergine into discs. Lay in a single layer on a plate or tray and sprinkle liberally with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes.

3

In the meantime whilst potatoes are cooking and aubergines are resting, prepare meat layer. In a saucepan add the oil onion and garlic and over a low heat cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to become translucent.

4

Turn heat up to high and add the minced beef/lamb using a wooden spoon break up roughly. Allow to brown before turning it around in the pan to brown the other side.

5

When the meat has browned add red wine allow to this to bubble away for a couple of minutes before adding canned tomatoes,beef stock, oregano, bay leaves and ground cinnamon. When sauce begins to bubble, turn heat to low and let it simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

6

Whilst the meat layer is cooking prepare the béchamel top layer. Melt the butter over a medium heat, then tip in the flour and stir constantly until it becomes crumbly in appearance. At this stage you can begin to add the milk 30ml at a time whisking between each addition until it has been incorporated. Once halfway through and it begins to look more liquid than solid you add more at a time. When all milk is added and you have thick creamy sauce turn off heat and stir in half the parmesan. Then set aside until required

7

Add the sliced aubergines to a bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Then cook in a non stick frying pan over a high heat until bronzed and soft. You will need to do this in two or three batches.

8

At this point potatoes and meat layer should both be ready. Turn meat sauce off and remove the bay leaves. Whisk the egg yolks into the
béchamel sauce, then add one third of this to the meat sauce to thicken and bind it. Taste and season accordingly.

9

Remove the potatoes from the oven and add an overlapping layer of aubergines on top. Then add the meat sauce on top of this using a spatula flatten surface. If you had large aubergines and there is enough add another overlapping layer of these before layering with the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and return to the over for 25 - 30 minutes until the topped has browned.

10

Allow to rest for 30 minutes after removing from the oven to allow to set correctly.

Ingredients

 3 Large potatoes (peeled and cut into thin slices)
 3 tbsp olive oil
 2 Aubergines
 1 tsp Dried thyme
 1 Large onion (peeled and finely chopped)
 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
 500 g Lean minced beef or lamb
 125 ml Red wine
 1 tsp Dried oregano
 1 x 400g canned tomatoes
 125 ml Beef stock
 2 Bay leaves
 ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
 100 g Unsalted butter
 100 g Plain flour
 650 ml Full fat milk
 60 g Parmesan (grated)
 3 Egg yolks
 Salt & Pepper

Directions

1

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Add the potatoes and 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the dried thyme to a large oven proof dish and toss to coat all potatoes in the oil and thyme. Place in the oven for 30 minutes,

2

Meanwhile, Thinly slice the aubergine into discs. Lay in a single layer on a plate or tray and sprinkle liberally with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes.

3

In the meantime whilst potatoes are cooking and aubergines are resting, prepare meat layer. In a saucepan add the oil onion and garlic and over a low heat cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to become translucent.

4

Turn heat up to high and add the minced beef/lamb using a wooden spoon break up roughly. Allow to brown before turning it around in the pan to brown the other side.

5

When the meat has browned add red wine allow to this to bubble away for a couple of minutes before adding canned tomatoes,beef stock, oregano, bay leaves and ground cinnamon. When sauce begins to bubble, turn heat to low and let it simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

6

Whilst the meat layer is cooking prepare the béchamel top layer. Melt the butter over a medium heat, then tip in the flour and stir constantly until it becomes crumbly in appearance. At this stage you can begin to add the milk 30ml at a time whisking between each addition until it has been incorporated. Once halfway through and it begins to look more liquid than solid you add more at a time. When all milk is added and you have thick creamy sauce turn off heat and stir in half the parmesan. Then set aside until required

7

Add the sliced aubergines to a bowl and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Then cook in a non stick frying pan over a high heat until bronzed and soft. You will need to do this in two or three batches.

8

At this point potatoes and meat layer should both be ready. Turn meat sauce off and remove the bay leaves. Whisk the egg yolks into the
béchamel sauce, then add one third of this to the meat sauce to thicken and bind it. Taste and season accordingly.

9

Remove the potatoes from the oven and add an overlapping layer of aubergines on top. Then add the meat sauce on top of this using a spatula flatten surface. If you had large aubergines and there is enough add another overlapping layer of these before layering with the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and return to the over for 25 - 30 minutes until the topped has browned.

10

Allow to rest for 30 minutes after removing from the oven to allow to set correctly.

Moussaka
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