My Mom’s Luscious Potato Moussaka, Jewish Style

By • November 19, 2013 • 10 Comments


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Author Notes: My mom’s potato moussaka is unique, amazingly tasty, and makes a luscious entrée or hot appetizer for a holiday feast; it’s also perfect for a Sunday family dinner. Kukla

Food52 Review: There is a reason that beloved family recipes are often considered comfort food. Lovingly prepared with just the right amounts of flavor, they instantly earn a place in your heart and have your family clamoring for more. This dish is no exception. The sauce's bold layers of flavors -- savory, sweet, sour -- are perfectly balanced with the potatoes. By lightly browning rather than boiling them, they didn't get too mushy while baking. If you must substitute the fresh dill for dried, be sure to adjust the quantity appropriately. An 8 x 8-inch pan was too small -- a 9 x 13 was just right, and it matched the serving portions in the recipe. I suggest browning the meat before adding it to the sauce.Anne

Makes 8 to 10 generous portions

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts, cut in half lengthwise, well washed and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, and diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes, drained, or 4 large plum tomatoes, quickly blanched, peeled, and diced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons each chopped fresh parsley leaves and dill fronds
  1. To make the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes; cook stirring often, over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add carrots, bell pepper and celery; cook for a few more minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring often; then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and mix in the parsley and dill. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Preparing potatoes, finishing meat sauce, layering and baking

  • 4 large Idaho baking potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices, and kept in a bowl of cold water to prevent oxidation
  • Oil for sautéing potatoes
  • 1 pound beef chuck or sirloin, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup good quality white wine
  • 1/2 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought beef or chicken stock
  • 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef and tomato sauce; taste for seasoning and add what is needed. Set aside.
  3. Remove the potatoes from the water and dry them well with paper towels. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and sauté the potatoes over medium heat for a few minutes on both sides, just to soften and lightly brown them. You will need to do this in batches. Set aside on platters lined with paper towels and sprinkle with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a third of the potato slices; then spread on half of the meat sauce. Repeat this process one more time. Arrange the remaining potato slices,then evenly pour the wine and then the stock over the top. The liquid will almost cover the top potato layer.
  5. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil; place on a rimmed cookie sheet and transfer to the oven.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, then take off the foil and continue baking until the liquid is absorbed and the top potato layer is starting to brown, about 15 more minutes.
  7. In a medium mixing bowl beat the eggs with a pinch of salt until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Pour over the moussaka and bake, uncovered, until the top is golden brown and crispy. Let the moussaka cool for at least 20 minutes; then slice, serve and enjoy.
  8. Note: You can also use this recipe for an eggplant moussaka, and only change the spices in the tomato-meat sauce to Middle Eastern ones such as cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cayenne pepper.

Comments (10) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago Waterobin

You refer to meat sauce but you don't mention cooking the meat and tomato sauce. Is this correct? FYI, many of us would refer to your baking sheet as "rimmed."

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about 1 month ago Kukla

Hello!
Yes Waterobin, the meat is raw. This is like my Mom used to make it and so do I. I think it was done this way because, when you brown ground meat, it becomes crumbly and to make it smooth it has to be cooked for a long time, but when the tomato sauce is cooled down to room temperature and then is mixed into the ground meat it is smooth and luscious from start to finish.

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3 months ago Ilene

Kukla, i am testing this recipe for Food52. I have a couple of questions...are you SURE it's an 8 x 8" baking dish? i don't see how this couple possible fit 8 - 10 "generous" portions....also, what is a "reamed" cookie sheet, i googled it and came up with nothing. I'm cooking now, so please reply asap. thanks.

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3 months ago Kukla

Hey Ilene!
Thank you for testing my recipe! As you can see on recipe picture it fits just right in a glass 8 x 8" glass baking dish, but you definitely can use a larger baking dish. A reamed cookie sheet is a flat baking sheet with a border and in this case it prevents your oven from potential spills while the Moussaka is baking.
Thanks again ; hope you’ll like the dish!

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3 months ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

I wish I could make this for the testing! Working every day for the next two weeks but am saving it for later!

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3 months ago Kukla

Thank you Meg! I’ll be glad to hear your opinion whenever you have time and decide to make this recipe!
Have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014!

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4 months ago Suzy

Thank you for posting this. Will Make!

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4 months ago Kukla

You are very welcome Suzy! Hope you like it and will let me know your opinion!

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4 months ago dymnyno

Looks delicious. I have a moussaka recipe that has a bottom layer of potatoes that really soak up the delicious flavors that I "translated" from a Greek friend in Kefalonia. I am ready to try using potatoes for all the layers!

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4 months ago Kukla

I’ll be very glad to hear your opinion if you decide to make this version of Potato Moussaka dymnyno! Thank you for the nice comment!