Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Moussaka

It's a good idea to cook the meat sauce a day in advance if you can; when you take it out of the fridge you can then remove and discard as much solidified fat as possible. Both the eggplant and the bechamel could also be cooked a day in advance if you like, and the whole thing assembled the next day just before baking. I heat up the meat sauce a little in the microwave, just enough to make it easier to work with, once the fat has come off.

I have listed preparing the eggplant after making the meat sauce, but in the interests of efficiency the eggplant should be sliced and salted before you start the meat sauce so it can drain while you do that. 

4 to 6 servings

3 hours - 2 1/4 hours prep time. Yeah; sorry -
and not including post baking rest time.

Getting Started

Prepare the Spices:
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
a good grind of black pepper

Just measure them out into a small bowl and set them aside until you need them. They go into the meat sauce.

Make the Meat Sauce:
4 to 5 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
500 grams (1 pound) ground lamb
2 cups chopped or crushed tomatoes

Peel, trim, and chop the garlic finely. Peel and chop the onion. Keep them separate.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and crumble in the lamb. As it begins to cook, mix in the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until the lamb has lost all pinkness, the onions are soft and starting to brown, and the mixture is fairly dry; this may take a good 15 or 20 minutes if the lamb is moist. Mix in the prepared spices, then the garlic. Cook for a minute or two more, stirring as  you do, then add the tomatoes. Mix well, and simmer for another half hour to 40 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture is again quite thick and not juicy.

Cook the Eggplant:
1 kg (2 pounds) eggplant
salt ad lib
up to 1/4 cup olive oil

Trim, and at least partially peel the eggplant. Cut it into slices lengthwise, about 1/2" thick. Lay them on a plate, piling them up in layers, and salting each layer heavily. Top with another plate, and add a heavy weight on top. Let rest for about 1 hour.

Rinse and squeeze dry the slices of eggplant. Rub them with oil on both sides, then lay them in a single layer in a baking tray. Cook them under the broiler for about 10 minutes per side, until lightly browned and bubbling. Check them regularly, and move them around if necessary. You will almost certainly need to do this in 2 if not 3 batches.

Moussaka


Make the Bechamel & Assemble the Moussaka:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons soft unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
a good grating of nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup smooth ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the butter, flour, salt, and nutmeg in the bottom of a saucepan, and cook, stirring constantly, until well blended and hot and bubbling throughout. Slowly stir in the milk, a little at a time, and when it is all in and the sauce is thick and smooth remove it from the heat.

Let it cool for about 15 minutes, then beat in the egg and the ricotta cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a 9" x 11" casserole with half of the eggplant, in whole slices or cut into smaller chunks as you prefer. Cover the eggplant with half of the meat sauce, then repeat with the remaining eggplant and meat sauce. Pour the bechamel over the casserole and smooth it out. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

2 comments:

RuckusButt said...

Thank you for this. I've been thinking about making moussaka all week. Now I know which recipe I will follow!

Ferdzy said...

Missed this when I was away - I do hope you try it, Ruckus!