Moussaka is a dish consisting of lightly browned eggplant, a tomato-meat sauce, and a white sauce (essentially bechamel), layered like lasagna, and baked.
For the eggplant:
3 Medium eggplants, peel, slice 1/2 in. thick, salt and let drain for 1/2 hour while you make the sauces. When you slice the eggplant, go the long way, not rounds, it’ll work better. Then dry eggplant and shake in a bag with flour and a good grind of black pepper. Brown in a bit of hot olive oil. Be careful with the amount of oil, and use only enough to brown a few slices at a time. Make sure to keep the heat up, and steady, unless you want oil sponges rather than eggplant. Drain the eggplant and reserve. (You may wish to unhook your smoke detector and pop the windows open – this tends to give off a lot of smoke and smell – if you can do this outside on the grill in a cast iron pan, you’ll be much happier)
In a saucepan over medium heat mix together:
6 Tbsp Butter
6 Tbsp flour
Whisk for a couple minutes and add:
3 cups milk
*Gently* bring to a boil, stirring, and simmer couple minutes. Whisk a cup or so of this mixture into:
3 eggs, well beaten
Whisk the egg mixture back into the white sauce and bring up to a gentle simmer, whisking until thick. Do not boil, or sauce will scramble. Add:
Pinch of nutmeg
Dash Tabasco Sauce
Let White Sauce cool. It should be quite thick. Sauce can be prepped in advance and refrigerated.
Note: I would make a bit more than this amount next time I do this recipe – most of the places I’ve had moussaka in have close to half an inch of the white sauce standing on top of the moussaka, plus some between the layers.
Brown in heavy frying pan:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb ground lamb or beef. (Lamb is tastier, harder to find, and leaner, thus the oil. If you use ground beef, omit the oil).
Drain grease. Add:
large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Saute around until onion limp. Add:
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
tsp dried leaf oregano
Tbsp chpped parsley
Tbsp chopped mint
a bit of salt and pepper
(I cheated here, and substituted Cavendar’s to taste (it was handy, and it was winter when I first made this, making fresh herbs more difficult to find here – additionally I abhor mint – so it’s ALWAYS optional)
Simmer gently until quite thick. The red sauce can be prepared well ahead of time, and keeps well refrigerated.
The parts of the Moussaka are:
1 cup coarse dry bread crumbs
2 cups Mozzarella or other white cooking cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, optional
Use a good sized lasagna tray with a cover. Put about 1/3 of the eggplant on the bottom in a solid layer. Trim eggplant to fit. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture on top. Spread 1/3 of white sauce over meat. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese, 1/3 cup of crumbs. Repeat this set of layers. Then put in a layer of the rest of the eggplant, the rest of the white sauce and cover with the rest of the crumbs. Garnish top with a sprinkle of red chile or paprika and an small handful of chopped parsley. Cover, and bake at 350 degrees for an hour, uncover and bake until browned on top and bubbly.
N.B. First things first, figure out how much eggplant you have, for how many layers.. if you’ve got two layers of eggplant, you need three layers of filling, and so on… so divide the fillings up accordingly.. it doesn’t have to be precise – just make sure you’ve got 1/2 inch or so of white sauce on top, when its all assembled.
Serve with the following Greek style green beans, which are very similar to what we get at the Mad Greek in Lawrence, KS:
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomato
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or Greek seasoning, such as cavendars, to taste, I used about 1tbsp probably)
2 (9 ounce) bags frozen French cut green beans, thawed and drained
Add olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium heat until hot. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add undrained tomatoes, olives and herb/spices. Simmer uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add beans and simmer uncovered until most of the liquid is absorbed.