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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Moussaka- A Mediterranean Treat

This is a Mediterranean classic. The basics come from Nick Stellino’s Mediterranean Flavors with my changes and comments. Make sure that you have enough potatoes and eggplant to cover a 9”x13” baking dish.

  • 2 Eggplants (enough for two layers)
  • 2.25 tsp Salt (or to taste)
  • 6 tbl Olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs Potatoes Peeled
  • sliced in 1/8” slices
  • .75 tps Black Pepper
  • 1.5 Lbs ground lamb (or goat)
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 4 garlic cloves sliced thick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • .75 tps cinnamon
  • .5 tps Allspice
  • .25 tps nutmeg
  • 2 tps thyme
  • .5 cup red wine
  • 1.25 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock (or bouillon)
  • 2 cups Béchamel sauce
  • .5 cup freshly grated cheese (parm., Romano, mozzarella or your favorite mix)

Cut the eggplant crosswise into .5 inch slices. Make sure you have enough to make two layers. Don’t forget (like me) that eggplant shrinks when baked. Sprinkle with salt and stack in a colander. Place a plate and a weigh on top and drain for at least 20 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425F. 

Brush a non stick baking pan with olive oil and both side of the eggplant. Place slices in a single layer and bake until brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside. Reduce the oven to 375F.

Heat 2 tsp (or more) of olive oil in a sauté pan set on high until sizzling. Add potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. (Don’t let them burn or stick). Transfer them to a 9”x13” baking dish spreading them evenly to cover the bottom. Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil (or if you are like me add more olive oil) in the same pan set on high heat. Add the ground lamb and cook for 6-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the lamb to a bowl. Leave the oil in the pan. (Before you start this part have all of the ingredients ready as there is not a lot of time between steps). Return the pan to high heat and cook the onion, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, thyme, salt and pepper for 3 minutes (careful not to burn). Return the meat to the pan and cook for one minute. Stir in wine and cook till the wine is reduced by half (1-2 minutes). Add tomato sauce and beef stock then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. You don’t want runny sauce so take your time.

To assemble the dish arrange a layer of eggplant over the potatoes (Remember you have another layer coming) Top with the meat sauce then the remaining eggplant. Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant, and cover with the grated cheese. 

Bake for 45 minutes until the top gets nice a golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool at least 15 minutes (I know you’re hungry but you need to let it cool and set up). Cut into 8 squares and serve with some hot crusty bread and a crisp white wine.

You can also make this ahead of time and refrigerate covered. The flavors will mix even better by the next day. To reheat place the whole tray (if there is any left) in an oven uncovered at 350F for about an hour or nuke (sensor re-heat if you have it) individual pieces (not my favorite but a time saver).
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