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Sunday, August 5, 2012


Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish that Charles and I tried while on our honeymoon.  Many Mediterranean countries have their own versions of Moussaka, but the Greek version stands out because it has a meat sauce, and the ingredients are layered (similar to lasagna).  Moussaka is a rich hearty dish with layered potato, eggplant, meat sauce, Parmesan, and béchamel sauce.  I made Moussaka for our Olympic themed Sunday Night Dinner, since Charles and I chose to represent Greece.  This recipe has a lot of steps, since each layer of the Moussaka is prepared individually - the prep time is about 2 hours.

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 10

You will need:
2 eggplants
1 lb. of potatoes
2 lbs. ground beef
2 large onions, finely diced
3/4 cup red wine
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cup tomato puree
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups plain breadcrumbs
12 whites, lightly beaten (reserve the yolks for the bechamel)
1 1/2 cups Parmesan

For the Bechamel Sauce:
3 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cup flour
6 cups warm milk
12 lightly beaten egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Step 1:
Slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices.  Salt them generously and then place them in a colander and set aside.  Place the colander in the sink, the salt is going to draw out excess moisture from the eggplant.  Let the eggplant sit for 20 minutes to an hour.

Step 2:
Peel the potatoes and then cook them in boiling water until they are just cooked.  Do not over cook them, because you need to slice them.  Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and set aside to let them cool.  Once cooled slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.

The meat sauce.
Step 3:
In a large skillet over medium heat cook the beef until is browned and no longer pink.  Then add the onions and cook until translucent.  Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Then add the wine to the pan and let reduce for 5 minutes.  Then add the cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, tomato puree and sugar.  Stir it together and then let simmer for 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4:
At this point the eggplants have been sitting for a while.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil.  Rinse the eggplant in water to remove the excess salt.  Then beat the egg white with a fork.  Pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl.  Dip the eggplant slices in the breadcrumbs and then in the egg white, and then back in the breadcrumbs.  Then place the breaded eggplant slices on the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes.  Then flip and bake for another 15 minutes.  Once the eggplant is cooked lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
The breaded eggplant slices.
Step 5:
Assemble the Moussaka.  Lightly grease a lasagna pan and then sprinkle with a light layer of breadcrumbs.  Then add the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the pan.  Put the breaded eggplant on top. Pour the meat sauce over the eggplant and then sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan on top.  Then add another layer of eggplant.  Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the top.

Step 6:
Make the bechamel sauce.  Heat the milk until warm.  In a large pot melt the butter over low heat.  Add the flour and whisk together.  Let the butter and flour mixture cook for 1 minute on low hear - do not brown it.  Then add the warmed milk and whisk together.  Simmer until the milk thickens and then remove from the heat.  Beat the egg yolks and temper them by adding 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture to the egg yolks while whisking continuously.  It is important to temper the eggs so you don't accidentally scramble the yolks when you add them to the hot milk.  Add 1 1/2 more cups of the warmed milk mix to the egg yolks 1/2 cup at the time while whisking.  Then add the egg yolks to the milk and stir together.  Then add the nutmeg.

Step 7:
Pour the bechamel sauce over the assembled moussaka.  And then top with the remaining Parmesan.  Bake for 45 minutes.
Finished Moussaka

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