Moussaka – An authentic recipe using home-grown seasonal produce

 

 

 

 

A Greek classic

 

 

 

 

Moussaka

Feeds 6

Calories per portion: Don’t ask

Time: 2 hours plus 45-60 min oven time

Serve with salad

 

Ingredients:

2lbs minced beef

2-3 aubergines

2-3 large potatoes

Salt / Pepper

Breadcrumbs

Parmesan

 

For the bechamel sauce:

2-3 pints milk

Flour

70 gr butter

50 gr parmesan

Egg yolk (optional)

 

For the tomato sauce:

2 tins chopped tomatoes, or passata

3 onions

Large glass of white wine

Cinnamon

1 bay leaf.

Before you start

 

Home grown ingredients that melt in your mouth

This has got to be one of my favourite Greek dishes. Every time it cooks, the distinctive smell fills the house and reminds me of walking into my mum’s kitchen every ten minutes, asking whether dinner is ready yet.

Now, I grow most of the ingredients myself every summer. The aubergines, the potatoes and even tomatoes to make my own passata and for the record, I can taste a difference.

I’ve decided to publish my mum’s recipe for it here, adapted only slightly, since I’ve seen this recipe really cannibalised over the years. So I hope to put the record straight as to the authentic way of making it.

Please, do not use ready made bolognaise sauce from a jar. Moussaka does not contain bolognaise sauce, nor does it contain garlic. And yes it really takes a couple of hours to prepare but I normally fry the aubergines and potatoes the day before – two hours is a long time to find in one day. Rest assured, it’s worth it.

And if you are going into the trouble of making it, why not make two at the same time? It won’t take you that much longer and it will freeze well for cooking another day.

Preps and Frying

 

Slice the aubergines lengthways

 

Start with the aubergines. Slice them lengthways, aiming for 0.5-1cm thick slices. Place slices in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover with water. I put a plate over them to make sure they stay immersed in water and leave to soak for 20 minutes.



 

Frying the potatoes

Next, peel and slice the potatoes. Again, you need to slice them lengthways and in the same thickness as the aubergine slices. Use kitchen roll to pat dry and sprinkle with salt.

 

Get a large frying pan and pour olive oil, enough that the base in completely covered. Get it hot and start frying the potatoes, until they are cooked through and golden. Make sure you don’t burn them. I like to absorb some of the oil by putting them on kitchen roll while cooling.

Once your potato slices are fried, move on to the aubergines and do the same thing. It’s really important to also pat them dry before you fry them. You’ll need quite a lot of olive oil, as the aubergines will absorb it as they cook – so be prepared to keep adding it in. Place them on kitchen roll to absorb the oil.

Tomato sauce

 

Slowly simmer till you get the right consistency

Chop the onion finely and fry on a low heat for around 20 minutes, or until you are absolutely certain the onion is soft and cooked thoroughly. The whole beauty of this sauce is that it is meant to melt in your mouth, and this takes patience. Crunchy onions are a massive no, no and will distract from all the flavours fusing together.

Next, turn up the heat and brown the minced beef. Season well with salt and pepper. Get the pan really hot, and when all the beef is brown all over, pour in the white wine and cook for a further minute.

Pour in your chopped tomatoes or passata, add the bay leaf and a small pinch of cinnamon and mix well.

Turn down the heat and let it simmer on a very low heat for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning after 10 minutes.

Bechamel sauce

 

Whisk continuously for a perfect bechamel

While your tomato sauce is simmering, start on the bechamel. Make sure you’ve got all your ingredients around you because you will not have time to grab more milk or the flour.

Mix the butter and flour into a roux sauce and heat for a couple of minutes. Add a little milk and whisk continuously. As the sauce thickens, add more milk. Did I say stir continuously? Make sure you do, or you’ll get lumpy floury sauce and if this happens you’ll have to start it all over again.

If you find you’ve added too much milk and the sauce won’t thicken, just add a little more flour.

When the sauce is ready, season with salt and take off the heat. Add the egg yolk for colour and the parmesan and mix well.

Layering

Once everything is ready, take a large lasagne ovenproof dish.

 

Layer the potatoes first

The potato slices go down first, as in the picture.

Pour over a layer of the beef in tomato sauce to cover, then layer the aubergines.

Pour over the last layer of beef in tomato sauce and then spoon over the bechamel.


 

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan

Mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan and sprinkle to cover.

Bake in a preheated oven (180c) for 45 to 60 minutes or until the bechamel has turned light golden brown. Leave to stand for 15 minutes before cutting.


 

Good luck, and let me know how you get on!

Yum!

 

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One Response to Moussaka – An authentic recipe using home-grown seasonal produce

  1. Thank you for your entry in Simple and in Season Elpi. x

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