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Author Notes: Is it a moussaka pretending to be dolma, or dolma faking as mousaka? Either way, I made this dish recently with lamb, and loved it. Then I tried it with chicken, and loved it, maybe even more. This is a moussaka that honors the spring. I deliberately did not use any binding material (no eggs or bechamel) because I wanted it to be light and seasonal. As a result, the dish will be fairly loose -- do not expect the layers to hold together tightly. If you like a more traditional moussaka, feel free to go down the bechamel route. —QueenSashy
- 20 ounces dark chicken meat, ground
- 2 generous bunches of Swiss chard (about 18 oz total)
- 1 small yellow onion (about 4 oz), chopped finely
- 4 ounces baby (spring) shallots (white and light green parts only), sliced thinly crosswise (if you do not have spring shallots, just use regular ones, or up the onions by the same amount)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 1/2 ounces Thompson raisins
- juice of one large lemon (or more if you like the dish very lemony)
- 1 teaspoon herbs de Provance
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan and brushing the moussaka
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Wash the chard thoroughly. Cut off the stems. Discard the steams or reserve for a different use. With a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, carefully shave off the thickest part of the vein in the middle of the leaf (but do not remove it completely). Set aside.
- In a medium pan, over medium heat, heat four tablespoons of oil until it is hot but not smoking. Add the meat and brown it gently for a couple of minutes. The meat will release a lot of juices -- do not let the juices evaporate completely. Transfer the meat and the juices to a bowl.
- Heat the remaining oil. Add the onions and sauté until soft, for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, and sauté for about a minute or two, until garlic becomes fragrant. Add the shallots and sauté for another two minutes, until the shallots begin to soften. Remove the pan from the heat and add the meat with its juices, raisins, pine nuts, herbs de Provance, lemon juice, cumin and oregano. Season generously with salt and pepper. Taste, and if you feel like adding more spices, go for it. Set aside.
- Oil a 10x12-inch baking pan, Dutch oven or casserole generously with olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 365F convection (390F regular bake).
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat until water is at simmer. Line a work surface or a chopping board with kitchen towel. Place about three or so chard leaves into the simmering water and blanch for about a minute, until the leaves begin to soften. Using kitchen tongs, take the leaves out of the water, and place them on the towel to dry. Transfer the leaves to the baking pan. Repeat the process until the bottom of the pan is completely covered in chard leaves. Then repeat the entire process again, until you have two layers of leaves. Now take a couple of tablespoons of meat and spread on top of the leaves. Repeat the process, two layers or leaves, a layer of meat, until you have nothing left and your moussaka is topped with two layers of Swiss chard.
- Cover the baking pan tightly with a foil, and place in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes. Take the moussaka out, uncover, and gently oil the top surface. Cover with the foil again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Take the moussaka out, remove the foil and place the pan back in the oven for another ten or so minutes, or until the top layer is caramelized and crispy. Remove the pan from the oven and let the moussaka cool down. Serve gently warm with yogurt and a slice of lemon on the side.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Spring Chicken