Prep1 hr 30 mins
My take on traditional moussaka. The beauty of this recipe (besides great taste) is it's ability to freeze (and defrost) so well, with no loss of flavour, making it ideal for OAMC (once a month cooking). Note: Greeks do not eat their food piping hot out of the oven - especially in the summer heat. Food is served just warm or at room temperature (but cooked that day - otherwise it is reheated to freshen it). Flavour is more pronounced at this temperature.
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- 2 lbs ground beef or 2 lbs ground lamb
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3⁄4 cup chopped ripe olives, preferably kalamata (optional)
- 15 ounces seasoned tomato sauce
- 1⁄4 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups hot milk
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1⁄2 cup grated kefalograviera cheese (use Parmesan if unavailable)
Eggplant and Potatoes
- 2 lbs eggplants
- olive oil, to brush on
- 2 -3 potatoes (cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds or long slices, enough to cover bottom of baking pan in 1 layer)
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 cup kasseri cheese or 1 cup white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- In large, heavy saucepan, heat 1/4 cup oil; saute finely ground meat, onion and garlic until lightly browned; add oregano, basil, cinnamon, salt, ripe olives (if using) and tomato sauce; Cover and simmer slowly about 30 minutes; uncover and simmer slowly another 30 minutes.
- While sauce simmers, prepare Bechamel Sauce (recipe below) and eggplant; cut ends from eggplant (1 large or 2 small) and cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices (if using large, flask-type eggplant, peel the skin off in strips with a vegetable peeler - creating a striped look - with some of the peel left on and some off. If using Japanese-style (the longish, purply-white ones), don't bother to peel at all); Place on a cookie sheet and brush with remaining olive oil; Place under broiler and broil until light brown; Remove from oven, salt lightly, turn eggplant and repeat process; Then position rack in center of oven and heat to 350 degrees.
- There are three ways you can prepare the potatoes for this delicious casserole: 1) shallow-fry potato rounds in olive oil until golden-brown or, 2) for fewer calories, arrange the potato slices in your baking pan, brush lightly with olive oil, bake for 15 minutes, continue with assembly, or 3) if you want to cut calories further, parboil them for 8 minutes; drain well on paper towels.
- To assemble: In 13x9x2-inch baking dish, arrange layer of potatoes, overlapping slightly, season lightly (there will be only one layer of potatoes, so use them all up); next, do a layer of eggplant; sprinkle some Parmesan, kaseri (or cheddar) and bread crumbs over eggplant; layer meat sauce, freshly grated cheeses, crumbs and Bechamel Sauce until all is used; bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees or until flecked golden-brown on top.
- To make Bechamel Sauce: In saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat; whisk in flour and cook slowly until smooth and lightly cooked (2-3 minutes); add salt and remove from heat; add milk, whisking rapidly and return to heat; cook until thick and bubbly, whisking constantly; allow to cool 5 minutes, whisking once in a while to prevent a skin from forming; incorporate eggs and grated cheese with wire whisk to make fluffy sauce.
- Freezer Notes: Once the baked moussaka has completely cooked, cut serving-size pieces, double-wrap in foil and freeze. Defrost in the usual manner and reheat in microwave (or oven) for a delicious, quick meal, when there's little time to cook and dinner is ready and waiting in the freezer!