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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Moussaka for the Holidays

I absolutely love moussaka. I used to have it all the time when I lived in NewYork - it was on alomost every diner menu. And it was always done well. The Béchamel topping was always thick and firm, but not dry. But finding moussaka in San Francisco was almost impossible. Even if a restaurant did offer the dish, it was never prepared properly. So, I taught myself to make it - just the way it's served in the Big Apple.

It's inexpensive to make and the layers of seasoned lamb, eggplant and Béchamel sauce creates such a warm and comforting dish. If you have a restricted budget, but still want to enjoy a gourmet meal, make Moussaka! The name alone is empowering.

Ingredients for Eggplant Moussaka
- 2 Lbs ground lamb
- 2 eggplants (sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces)
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 12 oz. tomato sauce
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3/4 cup of butter
- 1 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
- ½ cup swiss gruyere cheese (grated)
- 3 eggs (beaten)
- Salt and pepper to taste

- Large frying pan
- Medium sauce pan
- Cheese grater
- 2 pyrex dishes, approx. 9x5x5

Lamb preparation:
Set stove top to medium heat. Pre-heat a large pan, add olive oil and combine ground lamb and onions. Break apart the ground lamb as it browns. Once the lamb is browned, add the tomato sauce, red wine, cinnamon and parsley. Stir regularly (not constantly) until the liquid is cooked off (not completely dry, but no running liquid). In the pyrex dishes, start with a bottom layer of eggplant, then a layer of meat, another layer of eggplant and then finish with a layer of the meat. Make sure to firmly press the contents down into the pan. Set the pans aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Béchamel Sauce preparation:
Set stove top to medium heat. Pre-heat the sauce pan. Melt butter. Slowly add the flour and stir/mash to work out all the lumps. Slowly add the milk while stirring to work out any potential lumps. When the milk has been added, the mixture should be smooth. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and slowly add the egg, stirring aggressively to ensure the mixture stays smooth and well blended. Reduce the stove to medium low and begin adding the grated cheese, stirring regularly. Once the mixture is combined, let it thicken just a bit (so it’s not runny, but can be poured). Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the lamb and eggplant.

Place the dishes in the oven and cover lightly with tin foil. Let the moussaka bake for approx. 60 minutes. Remove tin foil, increase oven temp to 450 degrees F. and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the moussaka from the oven and let cool for at least 45 minutes.

Slice the Moussaka like a cake and serve. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. How much butter is needed for the sauce ?