Eggplant Recipe from Greece – Moussaka, a Mediterranean Classic

eggplant recipe, moussaka,

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Some years are better than others when it comes to the eggplant harvest. When it is a year when he brings me copious amounts I try and find delicious ways of using one of my favorite vegetables. In past years I could can eggplant tapenade , but recently I have found that freezing eggplant is also a great way to preserve it for the winter. It does pay to enjoy some fresh from the garden in recipes like eggplant ravioli, and I always make an eggplant lasagna.  This year I tried making that classic eggplant recipe, moussaka for the first time in a while.

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I turned to a new cookbook for me, Bake Until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook for a recipe. This is not a quick and easy recipe but it is well worth the time and effort as the result gives you a casserole with a rich flavor that deepens with time.

A classic Greek dish, moussaka is a delicious eggplant recipe

Moussaka-A Classic Greek Eggplant Recipe

1 1/2 lbs of ground lamb
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 large tomato
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
1 tsp sugar
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp freshly ground allspice berries
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, whites beaten to stiff peaks, yolks saved for the white sauce
2 TBSP dry bread crumbs

For the Bechamel

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9 TBSP unsalted butter
9 TBSP all purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly grated provolone or Romano cheese  The recipe calls for a Greek cheese called kefalotyri or kashkaval so if you can find it use it
1 tsp salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Make the Filling:

Preheat oven to 400°

Slice eggplant into rounds about 1/3″ thick, brush with olive oil and bake in preheated oven until soft, about 10 minutes.

moussaka, eggplant recipe

In a medium sized skillet heat the lamb (or ground beef or venison) over medium heat until it is browned. Be sure to break it up as much as possible. After it has cooked remove it from the pan and pour off the fat.

Clean the skillet.

moussaka, eggplant recipe

Add the olive oil to the clean pan and when hot enough add the garlic and onion. Cook for about 5 or 6 minutes until the onion is translucent making sure to not burn the garlic.

moussaka, eggplant recipe

Add the cooked meat back in along with the wine, tomato,parsley,oregano, bay leaf, cloves, sugar, cinnamon stick, allspice, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the meat is soft and flavorful about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves. (PAIN IN THE TAIL TO FIND THE CLOVES!).

moussaka, eggplant recipe

Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes and fold in the egg whites.

Make the Bechemel:

Melt the butter in a saucepan.

Add the flour and cook until light golden brown. (about 3 minutes) Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Return to medium heat and simmer until the sauce thickens – about 10 minutes.

Add the cheese and stir until it melts.

Stir in the salt and the nutmeg.

Temper the yolks by adding a little hot milk mixture to the two whisked yolks and stirring. Add a little more hot milk. Then whisk the yolk mixture into the milk mixture and stir until thickened.

Remove from heat.

Build the Moussaka:

moussaka, eggplant recipe

Lightly butter the bottom of a 12 x 9 x 3 and dust with 1 TBSP of breadcrumbs

Add two layers of the cooked eggplant.

moussaka, eggplant recipe

Then add the meat mixture, topped by two more layers of eggplant,

moussaka, eggplant recipe

Top with the Bechamel. Sprinkle with 1 TBSP of breadcrumbs.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden. (I would place the baking pan on a baking sheet in case of drips)

moussaka, eggplant recipe

Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

How Was the Moussaka?

moussaka, eggplant recipe

I served this classic eggplant recipe on top of some salted orzo and it was delicious. The bechamel had puffed a bit due to the addition of the egg yolks and it was almost like a souffle. The meat mixture was nicely spiced and a perfect compliment to the soft eggplant and rich sauce. You didn’t need to eat much as it was a very filling meat and was one I would call a stick to the ribs dinner.


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