Moussaka

Greek deliciousness on a plate, Moussaka is a bit like a lasagne with a slightly different spice combination – it’s just healthier because you use brinjal instead of pasta sheets. If you are conscious of carbs, leave out the potato layer at the very beginning. Preparing this dish takes a bit of time, but you won’t regret the effort!

Here’s what goes in:

  • 1kg of minced beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium-size brinjals (about 1kg)
  • 3 medium-size potatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 quarter cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of chutney
  • salt to season
  • 2 teaspoons of meat seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons of Greek origanum (dried or fresh)
  • Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of pureed tomatoes
  • Half a cup of white wine
  • Olive oil, for frying

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 and a half cups of parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt to season
  • half a teaspoon of nutmeg, grated or groun
  • 2 egg yolks

How to do it:

Peel and finely slice the potatoes and place them in the roasting dish that you will use for your moussaka. Season them with salt and olive oil and bake them in the oven at 180°C until they have softened and browned a bit. About 20 minutes should do. Thinly slice the brinjals and lay them out on a tray so that you can sprinkle salt on each one. Set them aside for 30 minutes. This process draws out the juices, which are believed to be bitter in larger brinjals, but more importantly this will firm up the flesh, making the brinjal less likely to soak up a lot of oil when it is fried.

In the meantime, start preparing the mince. In a heavy-based pan, fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is soft and appears slightly transparent. Add the minced meat to the pan and brown this together with the seasoning and sauces, reserving the tomato and the wine. Once this has taken on a rich, brown colour you can add the tomatoes and water. Give it a good stir and leave it to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. The liquids should absorb so that the meat mixture isn’t runny. When it’s done, remove it from the heat and set it aside.

Now rinse the brinjals in cold running water and then set them aside on a tea towel to drain. Pat them dry and then begin frying them on a hot skillet, turning them over as you go. Once the brinjals are done, set them aside and prepare the last component of your Moussaka – the béchamel sauce.

In a heavy-based saucepan melt the butter over low heat, add the flour and whisk vigorously until a paste is formed. Stir continuously with a hand whisk while gradually adding the milk so that lumps do not form. Keep stirring and add 1 cup of the parmesan bit by bit, reserving the remaining parmesan for the topping. Stir in the egg yolks, salt and nutmeg until your sauce has a thick, creamy consistency.

Mix 5 tablespoons of this béchamel sauce into your meat mixture. This is will help hold your moussaka together. Now you can begin layering the vegetables with the meat. First place a layer of fried brinjal on top of the potato and then add half of the mince, spreading it evenly in your roasting dish. Repeat this step with the remaining brinjal and meat. Pour the béchamel sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese and a little more nutmeg.

Bake this in the oven at 180°C for approximately 40 minutes or until the cheese has melted and turned a light golden colour. Before serving the moussaka, allow the dish to cool completely. You won’t be able to cut slices unless you have done so. You can then neatly plate the moussaka and heat up individual portions as you wish.

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