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Author Notes: This recipe is my take on moussaka, and the result of watching several videos and researching a number of recipes. After experimenting with this dish for several months, I have hit upon a combination of ingredients and processes that work well. Basically, most moussaka recipes rely on four separate actions - prepping eggplant, prepping potatoes, making a meat sauce, and lastly, concocting a béchamel sauce. I like the way I can spread out making this dish in a leisurely way. I can prepare the eggplant and potatoes, and then move on to the meat sauce. The combined flavors meld to create a great dish that guarantees leftovers. We have frozen baked leftovers with great success.
NB - I have listed the ingredients in order of use. 1) Eggplant prep, 2) potato prep, 3) meat sauce. 4) béchamel sauce. —Bevi
Makes 8 to 10 ample portions
- 2 large eggplants, skins on, sliced lengthwise into 1/3" disks
- olive oill
- salt and pepper
- 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/3" disks, and placed in a bowl of cold water
- canola oil
- coarse salt for seasoning
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup water if needed
- 1 1/3 pounds 85/15 organic ground beef
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 15 ounces diced San Marzano tomatoes and their juice
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- pinches fresh grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 small bay leaf
- pinches freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 2 egg yolks
- 6 ounces finely grated gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay the eggplant slices on half sheet pans brushed with olive oil, and then use a pastry brush to lightly coat tops of slices with more olive oil. Salt lightly. Bake in the oven, rotating the sheet pans, until the slices are lightly brown and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn off the oven.
- Pour about 1 inch of canola oil in 2 saute pans. Heat over medium to high heat. When the oil is ready, pat dry the potato slices and fry. Flip the potato slices and fry until golden brown. Pierce slices with a fork to determine doneness- - there should be no resistance when pierced.
- Place fried potato slices on paper towels and pat to absorb as much oil as possible. Lightly salt the potatoes. Set aside.
- Make the meat sauce. Add about 3 TBS. olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat.. Saute the chopped onion, being careful not to brown the onion. After about 8 minutes, pour the water into the onions, and stir and cook until all water is evaporated.
- Add the ground beef. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, and use two forks to completely break down the meat so no chunks of meat are evident. You may want to spoon off any fat that accumulates in cooking.
- Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes until the raw tomato taste disappears. Then, add the red wine, stirring until all the wine evaporates.
- Add the tomatoes, the bay leaf, the cinnamon stick, the grated nutmeg, and salt and pepper, Cook over low heat for about 25 minutes. Taste to correct seasonings. Set aside, covered. Allow the bay leaf and cinnamon stick to remain in the sauce until you are ready for assembly of the moussaka.
- Make the béchamel sauce. Heat the milk over a low fire in a medium sauce pan. While the milk is heating, make a roux in a larger saucepan by heating up the 1/4 cup olive oil, and then whisking in the flour. Allow the roux to cook, stirring constantly, until it develops a light tan color.
- Slowly add the heated milk to the roux. Keep stirring with the whisk to prevent lumping. Add the small bay leaf, the grated nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Stir until the sauce is thick enough to heavily coat a wooden spoon. Adjust seasoning. Take off the heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
- While the béchamel is cooling, begin assembly. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potato slices on the bottom of a 9 x 15 glass baking dish. Make the potatoes fit tightly. Then, add a layer of eggplant slices.
- Return to the béchamel sauce. Add the egg yolks to the cooled sauce, stirring constantly. Take one ladleful of the béchamel and add to the meat sauce, ( you will have removed the bay leaf and cinnamon stick) and stir in well to combine.
- You will have two layers of meat sauce in the moussaka. Spread a layer of sauce on top of the eggplant layer. Sprinkle some gruyere over the meat sauce.
- Add a second layer of eggplant slices, then the second layer of meat sauce. Then sprinkle with cheese. If there is any eggplant left, place randomly on top of the meat sauce layer.
- Pour the remaining béchamel over the top of the casserole, and then a final sprinkling of cheese. Bake uncovered in the oven for 45 minutes, until the béchamel is bubbly and golden with a few brownish areas.
- Allow the moussaka to cool for about 30 minutes before serving.