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Sunday, October 9, 2011
Some of my most favorite times are around a meal with family and friends, having fun banter and eating great food. It's one of the reasons I love to entertain and cook for them. It is a joy and I will never regret spending my time in the kitchen trying to create delicious food.
Moussaka is one of my favorites that I've enjoyed in restaurants and greek festivals. I've been trying out all sorts of recipes for this dish to find what I like best. It's been a lot of trial and error but I think this particular recipe is very good. Moussaka is an eggplant casserole, layering meat with eggplant and topping with a creamy bechamel sauce. In this recipe I roast my eggplant slices instead of frying them.
2 lbs ground meat (lamb, beef, veal, chicken, or turkey)
1 large onion (I like the sweeter varieties)
3 to 4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup each fresh mint, parley, and basil
1/4 cup good red wine
2 tsp cinnamon
1 to 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 tsp pepper
1 large can tomatoes (whole or diced)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 to 4 eggplant
6 tbsp. butter
2/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
1/4 cup kasseri cheese (kefalotyri if you can find it or parmesan will work too)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
I start with the meat sauce.
Finely chop your onion and garlic.
Then in a large pan heat the olive oil and then toss in the onions and garlic. Saute until they glisten.You are ready to braise the meat, break it up as much as you can and then add your finely chopped herbs and spices (cinnamon, salt and pepper).
Mix them well and continue to break up the meat.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the mixture and pour in the wine.
Tomatoes and paste go in last and break up the tomatoes. Allow to simmer for a while to thicken.
While the meat sauce is cooking I prepare the eggplant and bechamel.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel and rinse off the eggplant. Then slice them into wedges lengthwise.
I cover my baking pans with aluminum foil and I have discovered non-stick foil! You don't have to pry your food off the pan.
Brush the pans with olive oil and lay the eggplant over it. Then brush the top of the eggplant with a little olive oil too. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
You will need a couple of trays or do it in shifts until your eggplant is cooked. While they are cooking prepare the bechamel sauce.
In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium high heat. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, sprinkle flour over the melted butter and mix well. Note (heating your milk in advised but not required)
Slowly add your milk and mix well with a whisk to avoid getting lumps.
Turn off the heat once it's thickened and smooth.
Beat your eggs until foamy and then incorporate into the white sauce.
Grate or add your nutmeg, salt and pepper. Finely grate the cheese over the sauce and you are ready to put it all together!
Lower the heat in the oven to 350 degrees:
I use a 9 by 13 pan. Lightly brush olive oil in the baking pan and layer the bottom with the roasted eggplant. Cover with half the meat mixture. You can sprinkle some cheese over it if you like. Then layer with more eggplant.
Repeat with the rest of the meat mixture and then end with eggplant.
Cover the entire pan with the bechamel sauce and sprinkle the entire thing with more cheese.
Put into the heated oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Until lightly browned on top.
Allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving!
Posted by Flo Titmus at 9:08 AM