Moussaka ! Ground lamb, eggplant, onions, oregano, mint, tomato sauce, and a Bechamel sauce and cheese topping. Oh my ! This is a bit labor intensive during prep, but the payoff is oh, so good. It's prepared in three separate steps and then assembled and finished in the oven to a gooey, bubbling finish. Enjoy !
Serves: 4 for dinner or 2 with lunch leftovers
1 large eggplant, washed and sliced into rounds about 3/4 inch thick
1/3 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
1 tbsp. fresh mint leaves
1. Line a large flat cookie sheet or pizza pan with foil and place it in the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. place the olive oil, garlic, herbs, and a generous sprinkle of Kosher salt and black pepper in a blender and whiz to make a smooth green and garlicky paste.
3. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices and place them on the hot pan. Return to the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the pan and set aside to cool a bit.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 - 1 1/4 lb. ground lamb (or burger or pork)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped medium dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 hot Serrano chili, washed and minced
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1- 14 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
5. While the eggplant is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and minced meat and break into chunks, as it starts to brown.
6. Add the onion, garlic. chili, paprika, cinnamon, and tomato paste and cook to soften the vegetables and release the aromatics.
7. Add the dry white wine and tomatoes, salt and pepper and turn the heat down and cover the pan to simmer.
Bechamel Sauce and Cheese Ingredients:
3 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 c. farmer's cheese, crumbled ( I used Cotija cheese that I had leftover from Tex-Mex)
1 c. good quality grated Parmesan cheese
8. While the meat sauce simmers, melt butter in a small sauce pan.
9. Add the flour and stir to make a roux, cooking the flour for about a minute. Don't brown the flour.
10. Add the milk and stir to thicken.
11. Temper the egg yolks, by beating them gently in a small bowl and adding a small amount of hot white sauce to them while continuing to stir them. Then, turn the tempered eggs into the white sauce and stir to combine and continue thickening. turn the heat way down and add the farmer's cheese and Parmesan.
12. Cover the sauce and remove from the heat when the cheeses have melted.
Assembling the Moussaka:
13. Rub a 11 x 7 casserole pan with a bit of olive oil.
14. Layer in eggplant, meat sauce, eggplant meat sauce, Bechamel cheese topping.
15. Sprinkle the topping with green ribbons of fresh oregano and black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. or until the Moussaka is golden and bubbling gently.
16. Make a big green salad and open a bottle of wine, while the Moussaka bakes. Enjoy !