Recipe For Moussaka
This famous Greek dish has numerous layers of browned brinjal (eggplant), a meaty and rich white sauce. The brinjal pieces which have been pre-salted, drained and dried before cooking are then browned in oil for coaxing the delectable flavours.
The mince meat has been browned prior to addition of any salt or liquids so that one achieves greater caramelization of flavourings and colours. While preparing the cheesy sauce it is advisable not to include the yolks into the heated milk as they would get cooked up soon and become scrambled.
Preparation Time: 40 Minutes
Baking Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour, 10 Minutes
Potato, large-sized (two)
Brinjal, firm, shiny and medium-sized (three)
Extra-virgin olive oil (300 milliliters)
Milk (three cups)
Yellow of egg (3)
Butter (80 grams)
Mince meat of lamb/beef (half a kilogram)
Flour, all purpose (hundred grams)
Garlic pods, bashed (5-6)
Onion, finely diced (2 large)
Tomato paste (three tablespoonfuls)
Tomatoes, finely chopped (450 grams)
Powdered nutmeg (half teaspoon)
Ground cinnamon (half teaspoon)
Bay leaf (2, whole)
Cumin powder (a teaspoonful)
Cloves, ground (quarter teaspoon)
Freshly cracked black peppercorns and salt, as per taste
Bread crumbs (50 grams)
Reduced Fat Cheese, grated (90 grams)
Red wine, dry (60 milliliters)
The oven is firstly preheated to 250 degrees Celsius. We then prepare the brinjal for cooking. The vegetable is essentially salted to extract any bitter taste. This step is followed regardless of the vegetable size or whether bitter taste exists. Salting the brinjal also aids in extracting the moisture which makes it collapse slightly and thus does not mop up as much fats when fried.
The brinjals are firstly de-skinned with a vegetable peeler (optional step) and diced lengthways to around a centimeter in thickness. The slices are freely sprinkled with salt and set aside for around twenty minutes. Thereafter, they are rinsed properly, drained and blotted dry. They are then generously slathered with olive oil and black pepper on both sides.
They could either be placed in a preheated oven set for around fifteen minutes or pan cooked till they have developed a nice brown colour.The potatoes are peeled and diced into thin slices. These too can be baked in the oven after a liberal coating of olive oil or pan fried on moderate-high flame till they develop a light golden brown appearance.We proceed with preparing the mince filling by heating a deep pan containing olive oil over moderate flame.
The diced onions are sautéed in the heated pan till they turn translucent after which the mince is added. Pour some additional oil if the need arises. A heated pan is maintained all through to assist in searing the meat. Once the mince loses its rawness or develops a brown colour then the minced garlic is stirred into the mix and cooked further for some minutes.
The tomatoes (chop and paste form), ground cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin powder, dry red wine, salt and freshly cracked peppercorns are added at this stage and mixed well. The mixture is simmered for around ten more minutes till the dry wine develops a sweet smell. The mince mixture is cooked for around 25 minutes whilst mixing from time to time. Take off the flame once the meat is done.
We then prepare the cheesy sauce by firstly warming the milk in a medium-sized pan though avoid bringing it up to boiling point and then take off the flame. Another larger deep pan is then placed on the stove and once heated then the butter is added. When melted and bubbly then slowly stir in the flour. Pour the warmed milk and thoroughly combine using a wire whisk till any lumpiness dissolves.
When thickening is noticed then take the sauce off the flame. Once it has cooled down considerably then whisk in the yellow parts of three eggs, half of the grated cheese, powdered nutmeg, salt and freshly cracked peppercorns.The final assembling stage of moussaka initiates by liberally coating the base of baking pan or dish with olive oil, dust with bread crumbs and cover it with the browned potato slices.
Follow this with a layer of browned brinjals and then the mince mixture. Top the mince layer with the remaining brinjal slices and the cooled béchamel sauce. The final layer is a generously sprinkling of the remnant grated cheese. Finally, sprinkle the bread crumbs and placed in an oven set at 180 degrees Celsius for around thirty minutes.
The ready moussaka has a golden brownish outer layer while the brinjal slices have tenderized considerably. Cut and serve the moussaka when warm though the taste intensifies when allowed to cool a bit.
Photo Credit : Smulweb.nl/recepten/1371537/Echte-griekse-moussaka-aubergineschotel