Moussaka has a rich, complex flavor that calls for a rather complex recipe, one that I’m not eager to write down! It took up several hours of our Sunday afternoon but it exceeded our high expectations and we have enough for 3 – 4 mouth-watering dinners.
My husband read that the original Greek recipe calls for lamb, not the ground beef that we’re used to, so we decided to give it a try. Lamb is definitely more expensive, especially if you ask the butcher to ground up a 3.5 pound leg of lamb.
Eggplants (4-5 large)
Leg of Lamb (grounded, about 2 – 3 pounds)
Red Plum Tomato sauce
Russet Potatoes (2 – 3)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the Bechamel sauce:
Eggs (2; use reds only)
1 ) Slice eggplants lengthwise (about 1/2″ thick) and brush with olive oil. Add a dash of salt. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until done, fliping them once. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until done.
2 ) In a large pot, start the lamb ragu. Sauté the chopped onions in olive oil with a pinch of salt. When the onions are tender and translucent, add the ground lamb and stir it well so that crumbles up.
3 ) When the lamb and onions are cooked, add the tomato sauce (enough to cover the lamb but not overwhelm it). Add a little bit of tomato paste.
4 ) Add red wine, black pepper, fresh garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and a pouch with cloves wrapped in some cheese c loth or inside a stapled paper coffee filter (as you will have to take the cloves and cinnamon stick out later.)
5 ) Let simmer for about 30 minutes with lid on. Then uncover and let it keep simmering until most of the juices are absorbed. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves.
6 ) In the meantime, bake the Russet Potatoes. They should be firm enough to slice but soft.
7 ) Cover a large baking pan with olive oil. Sprinkle bread crumbs along bottom and rims.
8 ) Make the bechamel. You can add freshly grated Parmigiano to the mix.
9 ) Mix some of the bechamel with the lamb ragu. Set aside enough bechamel sauce for layering later.
10 ) Slice the baked potatoes and use to create a layer at the bottom of the baking pan.
11 ) Layer with the eggplant slices. Press down with a spatula to make the layer as even as possible.
12 ) Add a layer of lamb ragu.
13 ) Add a layer of bechamel sauce.
14 ) Repeat steps 11 – 13 : Eggplant, lamb ragu and then bechamel.
15 ) Sprinkle breadcrumbs at top.
I confess that I did skip out of the kitchen several times during the process. However, I think Iearned my meal just by loading and reloading two loads of dishes and washing a few pots by hand!