This is the kind of dish you should eat when it's cold and dreary and all you want is something warm to fill your belly. So let's just pretend it's not summer and 90 degrees out. I had Moussaka for the first time in Greece and fell in love with this dish. It's very similar to lasagna minus the pasta and tomato sauce. The meat is flavored with red wine, all spice, and cinnamon slowly simmered until it becomes rich and thick. The meat is then layered with potatoes and eggplants and topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. Anything bathed in bechamel makes everything better! If you can imagine from all those ingredients, this is a hearty and rich dish. It was delicious, rich and decadent - almost sinful - I feel like I'm describing a dessert. Well, if dessert could be savory - this would be it. Enjoy!

Anchorage Greek Festival Recipe
Excerpted from Tastes Like Home: Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska © 2007 by Laurie Helen Constantino
Serves 4-6

*This dish can be made ahead of time

Meat Sauce:
• 1 pound ground beef or lamb (I used ground sirloin 93/7)
• 1 3/4 - 2 cups diced yellow onion, 1/4" dice
• 1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
• 2.5 - ounce tomato paste
• 3/4 cups red wine
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 tsp. allspice
• 1 cinnamon sticks
• 2 tbs minced fresh Italian parsley
• 1/4 cup Panko or toasted dried bread crumbs

• 1- 2 large eggplants, approximately 1 1/2 pounds
• Olive oil
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 large baking potatoes

• 1/4 cup butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2.5 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
• 2 egg yolks
• 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
• Salt
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper (can substitute black pepper)
• 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Brown the meat, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in a large pot. Add the onions and continue browning. When the onions have softened and begun to turn golden, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomato paste, wine, salt, pepper, cinnamon sticks, and allspice, and cook for 45 minutes to one hour, until the sauce is thick and rich. Stir in the minced parsley and Panko or bread crumbs. Remove cinnamon stick and taste and correct the seasoning as needed.

While the sauce is cooking, preheat the oven to 450°F. Slice the eggplant longways (lengthwise) 1/2" thick. Lightly salt the slices and put in a colander to release excess moisture for about 1/2 hour. Lay on paper towels to soak up any extra moisture. Then spray PAM and season lightly with ground pepper. Bake eggplant slices for 15 - 20 minutes, turning them over after 10 minutes, or until the slices are golden brown.

Peel and slice the potatoes lengthwise 3/8" thick. (You don't want paper thin slices - on my mandoline I used a medium slice) Brush both sides of each potato slice with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake potato slices for 8- 10 minutes in preheated 450°F oven until they are just tender. The potatoes should not be cooked all the way through.

Warm the milk over low heat or in the microwave. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, mix in the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in the warm milk and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick and smooth. (You may need to turn up the heat to medium high in order for it to thicken) Add the nutmeg, salt and white pepper to taste. Quickly whisk one cup of hot milk sauce into the egg yolks, and stir the egg-milk mixture back into the sauce. Cook over very low heat for two minutes, stirring constantly, being careful not to let the sauce get hotter than a low boil. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup grated cheese. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To assemble the Moussaka, lightly brush the sides and bottom of a 8" x 8” pan with olive oil. Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Spread half the meat sauce evenly over the potatoes, and sprinkle 2 tbs grated cheese over the meat sauce. Layer half the eggplant over the cheese. Cover with the remaining meat sauce, and sprinkle with 2 tbs more cheese. Cover with the remaining eggplant.

Pour as much béchamel as possible over the last layer of eggplant (the pan will be very full). Bake for 50 - 60 minutes, or until the béchamel is puffed and golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes, cut into large squares, and serve.


Laurie Constantino said...

So glad you liked the recipe! Mmmm, wish I had some right now...

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