Recipe by Sue Lau
Moussaka is a great Middle Eastern/Mediterranean casserole made with eggplant, a vegetable perfectly suited to absorbing and tasting like the other ingredients in a recipe, and topped with a rich, creamy/cheesy Bechamel sauce. Usually moussaka is layered, kind of like lasagna, but this recipe opts for simplicity and ease of cooking mixing the sauce together. You can opt to make the meat sauce ahead, and then freeze/thaw and finish the moussaka by making the bechamel sauce, if you need to crunch time.
- eggplant, one large
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 large white onion, minced
- 1 1⁄2 lbs lean ground lamb or 1 1⁄2 lbs lean ground beef
- 4 -5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced (about 1/2 bulb)
- 1 large baked potato size russet potato, peeled and minced
- salt and pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 15 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 6 ounces canned tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 -4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup dry red wine, such as Syrah or 1 cup shiraz wine
- bechamel sauce, ingredients
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 3 cups milk
- 3⁄4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
- 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Directions See How It's Made
- Peel and slice eggplant, and slice into pieces 1/2 inch thick; sprinkle with sea salt and allow to sit and drain in a colander. Rinse eggplant with water; pat dry and mince.
- Cook lamb and onion in olive oil in a large nonstick skillet until meat is browned. Add potato, garlic, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, cooking until potato is browned. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and vinegar along with water and cook until potato is done, then place in a large casserole dish or lasagna pan.
- Add more oil to nonstick skillet, and cook eggplant in two batches, until browned and tender, adding 1/2 cup dry red wine at the end of each cooking cycle and allowing the wine to cook in and absorb.
- Mix together cooked eggplant with sauce in pan, and spread evenly.
- Add butter to skillet along with flour and whisk into a roux; add milks and seasonings, and cook, stirring, until thickened. astir in cheese and remove from heat.
- Add 1/2 cup bechamel sauce to the eggs, whisking quickly to temper them and keep them from scrambling in the bechamel sauce, then add egg/sauce mixture to the bechamel sauce and finish whisking.
- Spread bechamel sauce over meat sauce.
- Bake moussaka uncovered for 35-40 minutes at 350°F or until bechamel sauce is set.
- Allow casserole to rest about 15 minutes before serving (I serve the salad course while waiting).