Variations of Moussaka can be found all over the Balkans. For instance, in countries of ex Yugoslava they tend to use Courgettes instead of Aubergines. Spices are used creatively, differ from country to country and even region to region and are subject to availablity and taste.The Recipe I am using is based on a classic Greek version and has been modified to my personal taste by adding spices such as cinnamon, thyme and paprika and by using way less oil and bechamel topping than the average Greek would use.I hope you like it.
Servings: 8 persons
- 1 Kg Minced Beef preferably lean cuts
- 1 Kg fresh tomatoes (blanched for 1-2 minutes in hot water, then peeled). Tinned Tomatoes are also acceptable.
- 1/2 cup Olive oil for meat mixture
- Salt and freshly ground Pepper add to taste
- 2 tsp Oregano measure is for dried, adjust to taste for fresh
- 2 tsp Thyme. measure is for dried, adjust to taste for fresh
- 1 tsp Red Pepper flakes these should be spicy, so adjust to taste
- 1 tbsp Sweet Paprika
- 1 tsp Cumin.
- ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon (not too much but enough to taste. Must not be overpowering).
- 4 Medium Onions finely diced
- 6 cloves Garlic finely sliced
- 1 Kg non-starchy Potato cut into ½ cm slices.
- 1 Kg Aubergine cut sideways (or longways) into ½ cm thick slices.
- For the Béchamel
- 1 L Milk
- 300 grams Gouda or similar melting cheese
- 150 grams plain Flour
- 50 grams Butter
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp cumin ground
- ½ tsp sweet paprika ground
- Blanch and peel the tomatoes, then set aside. Should you wish to use tinned tomatoes then that would be perfectly fine
- 'Top and tail' the Aubergines, then slice longways into ½ cm thick slices sprinkle with salt and place on an oven tray and bake for ½ hour at 220°C.
- While the aubergines are baking it's time to wash, peel and slice the potatoes, also longways and into ½cm thick slices. Add to a pan with salted water, bring to the boil. Simmer the potatoes until these are ½ cooked. You know that they are half cooked when you prod the potatoes with a pointed knife and the knife goes through to the centre of the potato but not through.Remove the potatoes from the hot water and leave to rest.
- While the potatoes are cooking add the diced onions to a wok. Sweat the onions then add the ground beef. Once the beef has become a nice brown colour add the sliced garlic as well as all the spices and herbs on the list. The add the tomatoes, stir and simmer for about ½ an hour
- For the Bechamel
- Slowly melt the butter in a sauce pan (be careful to not 'brown' the butter). Add flour, mix and cook the flour while stirring. Add cold milk (milk must be cold from the fridge or the bechamel might not thicken enough). Keep stirring till the sauce thickens. If the sauce is too thick add more (cold) milk. If too thin add what the French call; Beurre Manié, which is flour mixed with butter till it becomes a paste. This you can add (at any stage) to thicken the sauce. Once you're happy with the consistency add the grated cheese. Take into account that the cheese will further thicken the sauce so don't make the sauce too thick to start (it takes, like most things a bit of practice to get right). Then add a pinch each of the (bechamel) spices and season. Set aside.
- Build the Moussaka
- Set the oven temperature to 190ºC.
- Place the potato slices in an even layer on the bottom of a baking dish which has been gresed with olive oil (any other oil is also fine). Then add a layer of Aubergine slices, followed by a layer of meat sauce.Make sure to pat the meat sauce well into the aubergines and potatoes.Poor the béchamel on top and finally finish off by adding some more grated cheese and a little paprika powder to add colour to the cheese while cooking in the oven
- Cook in an open tray for about 1 hour.
Be careful to not fill the oven tray to the edge of the tray because during cooking the mousaka will expand and the juices could over spill and then burn on the bottom of your oven. Before cutting and serving let the Mousaka settle for another hour.