United Tastes of GreenPan: Moussaka
Moussaka (/muːˈsɑːkə/, /ˌmuːsəˈkɑː/ or /ˌmuːsɑːˈkɑː/) is an eggplant- (aubergine) or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, in the cuisines of the countries of the former Ottoman Empire, with many local and regional variations.
What's not to love about moussaka? Even Disney features the dish in its movies, offering you quotes you can use in everyday conversations:
“I haven’t been this choked up since I got a hunk of moussaka stuck in my throat!” (Hades, Hercules)
Potential use: if you start crying after seeing something cute :-)
Let's get this casserole started!
- 3 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil, plus more as needed
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 pound ground lamb
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2 cup tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup salt, plus more for seasoning
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1⁄3 cup feta
Place the eggplant slices in a large bowl and cover with water. Add ½ cup of salt and stir gently to combine. Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. While the eggplant is soaking, heat olive oil in a large skillet and, working in batches, add the potato slices and cook until lightly golden on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper-lined plate to drain and repeat with any remaining potato slices. Rinse and pat the eggplant slices dry and bake (following the directions for the potatoes).
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet and, when melted, add the onions. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the ground meats, garlic, and oregano and cook, stirring to break up any lumps, until meat is browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the red wine and cook until evaporated. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, water and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid is evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a medium saucepan melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and, when hot, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth and thick. Season with salt to taste, and whisk in the egg and egg yolk. Stir in ½ cup of the cheese and set aside. Lightly grease a rectangular baking dish and place the sliced potatoes in the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Top with half of the eggplant slices and half of the meat sauce. Spoon ¾ cup of the cheese sauce evenly over the meat sauce and sprinkle with ½ cup of the feta cheese. Top with the remaining eggplant slices, pressing down on the layers gently with your hands to compress. Top with the remaining meat sauce and then spread the remaining cheese sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F/200°C, uncovered, until golden brown on the top and heated throughout, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
P.S. For a vegetarian moussaka, simply replace the meat with a layer of mushrooms or sautéed onions and rice.