Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish made with layers of eggplant and a tomato and lamb sauce. It’s very similar to lasagne, except that instead of sheets of pasta you use sliced eggplant.

The hearty richness of moussaka makes it a perfect dinner dish during the colder months. It’s also great for dinner parties as you can make it in advance and then just place it on the table and let people serve themselves.

Originally a peasant dish, moussaka uses cheap, readily available ingredients and is easy to prepare. Follow the recipe below for great tasting moussaka.

Three Parts

You can divide the making of moussaka into three distinct parts as follows:

  • The tomato and lamb mix.
  • The eggplant.
  • The white sauce.

You’ll find instructions below on how to prepare each of these components.

Moussaka Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams of minced lamb
  • 2 cans of plum tomatoes
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 5 eggplants
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 2 ½ cups of milk
  • 1 cup of grated cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme (or 1 dessertspoon of fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • White wine

Eggplant Stage 1

The first thing you need to do when cooking moussaka is prepare your eggplant, that way it can be “sweating” while you work on the rest of the dish.

Eggplant (also known as aubergine) is extremely absorbent, water rich and has a natural bitterness. These three characteristics, often undesirable in cooking, can be easily remedied.

Wash your aubergines and slice them lengthways. Coat both sides liberally with salt. Place the slices in a colander with a weighted plate on top of them. The idea here is to apply pressure to help squeeze the water out of the eggplant flesh. Let the eggplant slices sit like this for at least half an hour. Meanwhile, you can get on with the rest of your moussaka preparation.

The Tomato and Lamb Mixture

  1. Fry your onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.
  2. Add the lamb mince and cook till browned.
  3. Add the thyme, oregano, a couple of pinches of cinnamon and a good splash of white wine.
  4. Add the tomatoes and break up.
  5. Cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes.

The White Sauce

Inexperienced cooks often feel daunted at the mere mention of the word “sauce”, and indeed there are many complicated and delicate sauces in the annals of world cuisine. The white sauce used in moussaka is, happily, not one of them – so approach with confidence.

  1. In a small saucepan melt 100 grams of butter.
  2. Add 1/3 cup of flour to the melted butter and mix thoroughly to form what more experienced chefs call a “roux”. Really, this is just a flour and butter paste. You’ll find it easier if you use a hand whisk, but if you don’t have one of these a wooden spoon is perfectly adequate.
  3. Allow your roux to cook for two minutes then turn off the heat.
  4. In another saucepan add a bay leaf and a sprinkle of nutmeg to 2 ½ cups of milk and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add your roux to the milk. When you do this, you want to guard against any lumps forming, so keep the heat low and whisk constantly until the roux is thoroughly blended into the milk.
  6. Simmer for a further 5 minutes stirring constantly.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and take the white sauce off the heat.

Eggplant Stage 2

  1. Rinse your eggplant slices in cold water and pat dry with a tea towel or kitchen roll. Don’t be afraid to use a reasonable amount of pressure – it’ll help remove even more moisture.
  2. Fry the eggplant slices in olive oil until they are just starting to brown. Make sure you get the pan and oil nice and hot before you add the slices. Because of the absorbent nature of eggplant you’ll find you have to add oil to the pan with each new batch of aubergine slices.

Putting it All Together

Now you are ready to put your moussaka together. Use an ovenproof dish and follow the layering scheme below (or use your own).

  • A layer of eggplant slices
  • A layer of lamb/tomato mix
  • A layer of eggplant slices
  • A layer of lamb/tomato mix
  • A layer of eggplant slices
  • A layer of white sauce

Cover with grated cheese and place in a pre-heated oven. Cook for 45 minutes at 180˚C.

Magnificent Moussaka

While moussaka takes a bit of time to prepare the result is more than worth it. Serve it with fresh crusty bread, a green salad and the rest of that bottle of white wine!

For another way to make moussaka check out this video.

How to Make Moussaka, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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Comments

  1. mark mcnulty says:

    A taste of Greece I thought I was back there.

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