I recently went hunting around for a Moussaka recipe and came across one from celebrated Australian cook, Maggie Beer.
As with all my cooking I have adapted her recipe slightly to suit what I could find when I went shopping and to suit my own tastes.
I must say that it was an easy recipe to follow and the outcome was terrific with all but a few scrappy mouthfuls of mince left over from my guests.
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 to 4 large/medium-sized eggplants
1 1/2 tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil to roast eggplants
To taste salt
To taste freshly ground black pepper
1 tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil to saute
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
Maggie’s recipe said 500g minced lamb but I couldn’t get it on the day so I used 500g beef mince and about 200g pork mince (Yep, I used a little more mince but it didn’t make any difference)
½ inch piece fresh cinnamon or as I used, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tbspn tomato paste
½ cup red wine (I used Rose)
½ lemon zest grated
1 cup Tomato Sugo
½ cup flat leaf parsley freshly chopped (I didn’t have any so I added about 1 tablespoon of dried oregano and I figure you could use dried parsley too!)
¼ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup parmesan grated
1 tbspn Lemon zest, grated
Sprinkle of dried oregano
2 tbspn parmesan grated
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
1 ¼ cup full cream milk
1 cup Chicken Stock
1 pinch nutmeg grated
To taste freshly ground black pepper
To taste, salt
- Cut eggplant into thin 1 centimetre slices. I greased the tray with some olive oil and put the eggplant slices onto the oil before sprinkling some more olive oil over the top and seasoning with salt and pepper (You can brush with oil if you prefer but I don’t like the eggplant to oily). I then put in the oven at 250C, or as hot as you can go, for about 4-5 minutes until golden – turning the pieces over half way through cooking and sprinkling with oil, salt and pepper again before leaving in the oven for another 4-5 minutes until golden. (Check after a couple of minutes just to check on your own ovens heat etc)
- Saute onion at moderate temperature for 5 minutes – add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Put onion and garlic aside.
- Salt and brown meat in batches at a high temperature, you don’t want the mince to ‘boil’. Put all meat back into the pan, add cinnamon, onion and garlic, tomato paste, and deglaze with wine at high temperature. Then add lemon zest, Tomato Sugo, parsley/oregano/basil (or all three). Simmer for 20 minutes for flavours to combine.
- To make the béchamel or cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pot and then sprinkle the flour over it, stirring well to combine. Continue to cook for a little while until the flour colours slightly and it loses that raw flavour.
- Remove from the heat and pour the milk in first and then the stock, slowly, at first, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Return pan to the stove and continue to cook until thickened – stirring often until the liquid thickly coats the back of the spoon. Add the nutmeg and seasoning and lay a piece of plastic wrap or baking paper directly on top of the sauce so that it doesn’t form a skin. Set aside until needed.
- To make the Moussaka, spray an oven proof dish with non-stick cooking spray or a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom of the dish and then a layer of lamb mince over this. Finishing with a layer of eggplant. (Depending on your dish you may be able to get more layers but in mine (which was a lasagne-style dish) I only had a layer of eggplant on the bottom, then a layer of mince, a final layer of eggplant and then the cheese sauce and crust on top).
- Pour the cheese sauce over the eggplant then mix the breadcrumbs with the grated parmesan, and lemon zest and generously sprinkle over the top of the béchamel. Bake in a preheated 200C oven for half an hour to an hour depending on how long you leave between preparing and eating.