Thursday, July 1, 2010

Moussaka...Not Moose Caca

Today I stepped out to make this traditional Greek Dish and managed to cut out a lot of fat. The kids inhaled it! I'm so happy they love lamb, but ground beef would do just fine for those who have an aversion to "gamey" meat.

2 pounds aubergines {eggplant} (large and elongated variety) shopping list
½ Cup vegetable oil shopping list
1 large onion, finely sliced shopping list
1 pound minced lamb shopping list
1 glass white wine (not retsina, but aretsinoto) shopping list (I used the Cab I had on hand)
1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, shopping list
Teaspoon ground cinnamon shopping list
Teaspoon ground allspice shopping list
salt and black pepper shopping list
1 teaspoon oregano shopping list
1 oz. grated parmesan, kefalotiri, or gruyere cheese shopping list
Some chopped parsley shopping list
Béchamel Sauce shopping list
3 oz. butter shopping list
¾ Cup flour shopping list
2 ½ C warm milk shopping list (I used 2 cups of lowfat and 1/2 cup of half-and-half)
salt and white pepper shopping list
1 oz. grated Parmesan or gruyere cheese shopping list (the gruyere was great!)
2 egg yolks shopping list
topping shopping list
2 Oz gr. grated Parmesan, gruyere or kefalotiri cheese shopping list
4 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs shopping list (I skipped these)
See my other notes below...

How to make it
Use a roasting container, either square or oblong, approximately 9 ½ x 13. It is recommended that you spread the work involved over two days for your convenience; one can easily cook the meat the day before, without the Moussaka suffering at all. Do not do the same with the aubergines; they should be fried on the day.

Top and tail the aubergines, without peeling them. Rinse them, cut them lengthways in ¼ inch thick slices and immerse them in salted water, for 30 minutes. Take them out, squeeze gently, rinse, and then squeeze them again. Drain them in a colander and pat dry. Fry them in hot vegetable oil until they become pale golden on both sides; you can either deep-fry them, which is easier but they absorb a lot of oil, or shallow-fry them. In either case, drain them on absorbent paper on a flat platter before serving, so that most of their oil will dribble away.

Note: I sprayed mine with cooking oil and baked them on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 425 until each side was golden brown.

Sautee the sliced onion in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, until it looks glistening. Add the meat and sauté together, stirring, until all the lumps are broken down and the meat starts to change color. Pour in the wine, add tomatoes, sliced finely, the spices, salt and pepper and the oregano. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time in case it sticks. Then mix in the grated cheese and parsley.

Béchamel Sauce:
Melt the butter and, away from the heat, gradually add the flour and stir to mix. Return to the heat and gradually add the milk and seasoning, stirring continuously. Simmer for 9-10 minutes, stirring, until it has thickened considerably. Withdraw the pan from the heat, let it stand briefly, and then add the cheese and the egg yolks. Stir to blend them. Do not let the sauce boil after this. It should by now be a thick béchamel, to enable it to sit on top of the meat mixture and form a kind of crust.

To assemble:
Cover the base of the roasting dish with half of the fried aubergines, then spread half of the meat mixture evenly on top of them and cover neatly with the remaining aubergines. Spread the remaining meat and sauce evenly over the top and cover neatly with the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle the grated cheese all over the top, and the breadcrumbs. Moussaka from Macedonia may contain a layer of thinly sliced round potatoes which have been fried first. Bake in a pre-heated oven, 350 F for 1 hour, until a golden crust is formed all over the top. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving, in order to be able to cut it more easily. To serve, cut into square or oblong-shaped pieces, about 3 inches thick. It should be quite dry by then and the pieces should ideally stay intact.

Note: I sliced 5 yellow potatos with the mandilin slicer, and browned them as I did with the eggplant. This was my 3rd layer. First was the eggplant, then the meat sauce, potato and then creamy bechamel. YUM!


  1. Hello! Lovely recipes, I am looking forward to keeping up with you and benefiting from your trials and research! We just had lamb for the first time in Missouri. It was their own farm-raised, free-range and it was fabulous!

  2. Ahhhhh farm raised lamb! What a treat. The kids have always loved it.