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Moussaka (Part 2 of the Big Fat Greek Mother’s Day Party)
May 11th, 2011 by

Maggie holds a plate of Moussaka and Greek salad.

Maggie holds a plate of Moussaka and Greek salad.

This is an untraditional moussaka recipe from Julia Child. I changed it slightly. It’s a bit time consuming to make but worth the effort. And unlike eggplant parmesan, you don’t have the tedious chore of dipping the eggplant in egg and breadcrumbs.

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant (2. Make sure they’re firm, shiny and a dark purple. This is key, as I don’t believe in salting eggplant and draining it to get out the bitterness. If you buy a perfectly ripe eggplant without bruises, it won’t be bitter.)
  • Olive oil and Salt (Enough to brush each eggplant slice.)
  • Dried herbs (I used a very small amount of oregano, thyme, and mint.)

For the lamb mixture:

  • Ground lamb (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Fresh parsley (1/2 cup, pressed down)
  • Onions (2 medium, to make about 1 1/2 cups, minced)
  • Garlic (2 cloves, minced)
  • Canned Italian plum tomatoes (2 cups, strained and drained)
  • Red wine (3/4 cup)
  • Allspice (1/8 tsp.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • Egg (1 large, beaten)

For the topping:

  • Butter (3 tbsp.)
  • Flour (1/4 cup)
  • Hot milk (2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Mozzarella cheese (1 cup, grated)
  • Nutmeg (1 small pinch)
  • Swiss cheese (1/2 cup, grated, to top the topping)

It comes out of the oven bubbling hot, but wait a few minutes until it cools a little before serving.

It comes out of the oven bubbling hot, but wait a few minutes until it cools a little before serving.

What I did:

Wash and peel the eggplant vertically, leaving vertical, purple stripes.

Cut thin (About 1/4 of an inch) round disks of the eggplant.

Brush on olive oil and salt on both sides and lightly sprinkle with the dried herbs. Bake in a 400-degree oven on a cookie sheet. Brown on one side and then turn over. You can cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil during baking. This should take about 15 minutes for each tray of eggplant. Set aside.

Chop the parsley in a food processor, remove and reserve.

Add the onions and chop with on/off pulses; remove and saute in a frying pan with 2 tbsp. of olive oil; add the minced garlic.

When onions are tender, add the ground lamb. Brown very lightly.

Fold in tomatoes, wine, parsley and allspice, salt, pepper. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently for about a half hour or until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon. Taste periodically and adjust seasoning.

Remove from heat and stir in the beaten egg.

Lightly oil a baking dish (one the size of a good lasagna will do) and line it with a layer of eggplant.

Spoon half the lamb mixture over it and then add another layer of eggplant. Add the rest of the lamb mixture and end with another layer of eggplant.

To make the topping, do the following:

Cook the butter and flour together for about 2 minutes without coloring, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat and pour in all but 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Whisk vigorously to blend thoroughly.

Put it back on moderately high heat and whisk slowly until it comes to a simmer. Add in the rest of the milk in drips and drabs. Be careful to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon.

Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella cheese.

Spoon the hot sauce over the top of the eggplant. Shake the baking dish to allow it to sink down.

Sprinkle the swiss cheese evenly on top. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven until the top is a light brown and bubbling.

Serve warm or tepid, but not too hot. It’s good cold, too.

Check out the other “Big Fat Greek Mother’s Day Party” recipes.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

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