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Sep 12

A twist on Greek Moussaka




Moussaka is a dish that has it’s origins in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Middle East, but the classic Greek representation of Moussaka is a fairly modern invention. Greek moussaka usually consists of layers of eggplant (aubergine), minced lamb, tomatoes and topped with a béchamel sauce, though in other countries there are versions that contain zucchini (courgette) or potatoes instead of eggplant, cheese sauce instead of béchamel and the Turkish version of Moussaka isn’t layered and the word itself comes from the Arabic word ‘musaqqaʿa’ which means ‘chilled’.

Moussaka with a ricotta topping

Moussaka with a ricotta topping

Just to add to the confusion, my version of moussaka is made with minced beef instead of lamb, which can be a bit greasy sometimes, and to my béchamel sauce, I add an egg and some ricotta cheese, topped with a little grated cheese. You would be correct in saying that my dish isn’t Greek moussaka any-more, but given the amount of different versions, I think it has a place, and I prefer my version anyway because of the fluffy topping.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2lb (450g) of minced beef or lamb if you prefer
  • 3 large eggplants (aubergines)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 heaped tbsp of tomato purée
  • 6 fl oz (150ml) of red wine
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Topping

  • 18 oz (500 g) ricotta
  • 18 fl oz (500 ml) milk
  • 2 oz (50 g) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • 0.25 tsp of grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A little grated cheese or Parmesan

Method

  1. First slice the eggplant into roughly 0.5cm (0.33″) slices. Lay the slices out on a dish and sprinkle on a few teaspoons of salt over them. After about half an hour, wash the salt from the eggplant slices, and dry them with some paper towels.

    Sliced eggplant (aubergine)

    Sliced eggplant (aubergine)

  2. Place the slices on a greased baking sheet, spray with a little oil, and then cook them in 180C (355F) oven for about 25mins until they start to turn brown.
  3. Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the minced meat and brown. Add the tomato purée, cinnamon and red wine. Reduce the liquid until it has been fully absorbed. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  4. Place a layer of the eggplant in the bottom of a deep oven proof dish.

    Layer of eggplant

    Layer of eggplant

  5. Cover with a layer of the minced meat and repeat the layers twice more.

    Layer of meat

    Layer of meat

  6. To make the béchamel topping, first make a roux by melting the butter in a pan and whisk in the flour a little at a time so that it is fully absorbed.

    Making the roux

    Making the roux

  7. Add the milk and slowly bring to a boil, while continuing to stir.
  8. Once the béchamel has thickened, take the sauce off the heat, add the ricotta, the egg, and gently whisk them into the sauce until they are fully combined. Return the sauce to the heat to cook for a minute of so, while continuing to stir. Add the nutmeg and season to taste.

    Adding ricotta to the bechamel

    Adding ricotta to the bechamel

  9. Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle a little grated cheese or Parmesan over the top of the sauce.

    Ricotta bechamel sauce poured over the moussaka

    Ricotta bechamel sauce poured over the moussaka

  10. Bake the moussaka in a 180C (355F) oven for about 25 minutes until the top has started to brown.

    Moussaka

    Moussaka

  11. Remove from the oven, cut into slices and serve by itself, a small side salad or some bread.

 



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