> Lemon and Strawberries: Classic Greek moussaka (μουσακάς) with béchamel sauce

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Classic Greek moussaka (μουσακάς) with béchamel sauce

If you'd ask me what's an example of a Greek food, moussaka would be one of the top ten on my list. It's one of the most known Greek dishes and really worth trying if you haven't yet!
The combination of vegetables, meat and spices creates an explosion of taste in your mouth and it's really hard to stop eating once you start.
Moussaka (μουσακάς) is a type of layered casserole made with potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes and minced meat. Ideally you would use lamb meat, but pork, beef or mix of these work great too.
The secret of a great moussaka is to fry eggplants and potatoes before you make them into layers - it really does make a difference!

INGREDIENTS (for a 30x40cm baking pan):
  •  5-6 small eggplants
  • 3 big potatoes
  • 1 big onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1kg minced meat of your choice
  • 1-2tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2tsp ground cumin
  • 3tsp (or more) oregano
  • 500ml tomato paste
  • salt & pepper for taste
  • olive oil for frying

Start with cutting eggplants and potatoes into about 5mm thick slices. Sprinkle eggplants with a lot of salt and set them aside for at least 15 minutes to get an excess bitterness out.

Next step is to half-fry potatoes - preheat your oven to 200°C (392°F). You can do it on a pan, but oven allows you to fry more at the time, so it takes less time.
Brush a big baking pan with some olive oil, and place the potato slices on it. Sprinkle with more olive oil and a little bit of salt. Put them in the oven and let them fry until they reach golden color.
Meanwhile prepare the meat sauce - preheat a deep pan with 1tbs olive oil. When it's hot add finely chopped onion and let it fry for 1-2 minutes. Add crushed garlic and minced meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add cinnamon, cumin and oregano and mix well. Let it fry for about 5 minutes or until your meat is cooked. Add tomato paste. If you're using a very thick one, you can add about 1/2 glass of water to prevent the sauce from burning. Add more salt and pepper if needed, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce ammount of liquid.

When potatoes are ready, take them out and put on a paper towel if you want to get rid of some oil.
Now it's time to fry eggplants on the same pan you used for potatoes. Wash eggplants with cold water to remove extra salt and juices and lay them on a pan. Sprinkle with olive oil, put in the oven and let them fry until slightly golden - about 15-20 minutes.
Start making béchamel sauce:

  • 40g butter
  • 40g flour
  • 1 glass milk
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste
Dissolve butter in a pot and add flour. Fry until it reaches a light golden color, pour milk, add nutmeg, salt, pepper and mix it well using a whisk. Make sure the flour doesn't leave any lumps in the mixture. After few minutes of stirring the sauce should become thicker - take it off the heat and set aside to cool down. To save time you can place the pot in a bowl filled with cold water. 
Tip: If your béchamel is not smooth and there are some little lumps of flour, you can rub it through the sieve with a spoon. 

When your sauce is cool enough, add an egg and whisk it all together.

Your eggplants and meat sauce should be ready by now, so take them out and lower heat in the oven to 170°C (338°F). Time to layer all of the ingredients on a baking pan. Start with a layer of potatoes, then place the eggplants. Next is the meat sauce and again potatoes and eggplants. Last layer is your béchamel sauce.

Put moussaka in the oven and bake for about an hour. It's ready when the béchamel thickens and reaches nice, golden color.

Serve warm with some feta cheese on side and fresh bread or pita. Moussaka tastes great also the next day, reheated with a slice of melted halloumi cheese on top.


No comments:

Post a Comment