Make Ahead

Versatile Moussaka

March 11, 2013
1 Ratings
  • Serves 12-16
Author Notes

I first made this for a Thanksgiving potluck, from a recipe taken from Saveur magazine. When everyone's eyebrows shot up after taking their first bites, I knew I had a keeper. Not one to follow recipes to the absolute letter (unless I'm at work, because that's when it counts), the recipe has been tweaked a bit over time to suit my budget, time, tastes or energy levels. Beef subs in for lamb when the price is right, and I prefer to roast my vegetables the day before so I'm not standing guard in front of the stove. If I have tomato paste, that gets thrown into the mix. This is a really humble, accommodating dish. It's a bonus that it feeds so many. —Elizabeth Rex

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/4" slices
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4" slices
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 cup red wine (I used Syrah, feel free to play around)
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay eggplant slices on a baking tray (overlap is okay). Season with salt and pepper. Lay potato slices on another baking tray, same treatment. Roast in oven for at least 40 minutes, flipping once, til cooked through. If they're a little dried out, even better. Remove and set aside. This step can be done up to 2 days in advance.
  2. Meanwhile, put currants in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soften for 20 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile part 2: In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, cook the ground meat, stirring and breaking up the clumps until browned. Transfer to a strainer set in a bowl and drain. Return the pot to the heat and add the onions, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, allspice, cloves, and bay leaf, cooking until the onions are softened. Add tomato paste if you're using it. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated. Add tomatoes, currants, and the reserved ground meat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer; partially covered, until thickened, about 40 minutes and up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. (You're looking for a pretty thick meat sauce, where most of the liquid has pretty much reduced.) Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.
  4. Make a bechamel sauce: heat butter in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until smooth and the raw flour smell is gone, about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk in a steady stream and add nutmeg (bonus points if the milk has been warmed up a bit). Cook, whisking often, until smooth and thickened. Season with salt and pepper, let cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and yogurt together, then add into bechamel, whisking until smooth.
  5. Assemble the moussaka: Turn up the oven to 400°F. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, lay down potatoes slices along the bottom. Place eggplant slices on top. Cover with meat sauce. Pour the bechamel over the meat sauce and spread evenly. Sprinkle the top evenly with grated cheese and bake until browned and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
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    Elizabeth Rex

5 Reviews

Laura R. September 10, 2020
I just made this and it is excellent! Very easy. It will be my go to moussaka dish!
Valerie G. December 22, 2015
For a vegetarian dish, can I just leave out the meat? or is the meat crucial to the recipe?
Jean March 20, 2015
Fabulous recipe! Layers and laters of flavor and texture. Made it with lamb upon request for my husband's birthday. Wonderful for a small gathering. We gobbled it up lickety split, and then there was none... Will make again. Thank you!
aargersi March 11, 2013
This sounds fantastic - I love your version with all of the spices - I do believe your version will be my version from now on!
Elizabeth R. March 11, 2013
Wow, thanks so much! Feel free to play around with it. In fact, I still do. A couple of weeks ago, I made this when people came over. One of them had an egg allergy, so I threw in some ricotta I happened to have. It worked out great.