This Recipe does not contain Chicken broth, however, since it is one of our favorite foods and we encourage people to try it, we thought we’d include it on the site anyway.
This Summer we had the fortunate occasion to visit Greece. My sister who lives in Berlin was marrying a lovely German fellow and they had decided to hold their nuptials on the Island of Crete in August. Before we headed to Crete, we visited the mainland – Athens and then the Peloponnese – a charming beach town called Gythion about 3 hours south of the Corinth Canal (one of the great modern wonders of the world). Our tour in Greece introduced us to many amazing dishes, and Moussaka has to be one of our very favorite. I bought a cookbook in Crete, but I actually like this recipe – which I found in Saveur magazine issue no. 123 – much better. It is the closest to what we tasted in Crete – which was the best, most fresh and creamy version we had on our travels. It takes a little time, but don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list – its absolutely worth the time and it gets easier every time you make it.
This recipe serves 12 easily
There are three parts to this recipe: 1.) The cooking of the eggplant and potatoes in oil and the browning of the lamb, 2.) making the bechamel sauce 3.) Combining all the ingredients and baking together. It takes about an hour and a half to make the whole thing.
- 1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes – undrained
- 1/4 cup dried currants (I omit these sometimes)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb ground lamb (you can also use turkey or beef, but if you use beef, make sure you drain the fat well or it will be very greasy)
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 finely chopped cloves of garlic
- 2 medium yellow onions finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper stemmed, cored and finely choppped
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- 1 1/2 lbs eggplant cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 1 large russet potato cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 1/4 cups milk
- 1 bay leaf
- freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup grated parmesan
Puree tomatoes in blender and set aside. If you are using currants, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes, then drain them and set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in 6 qt pot over medium heat. Add lamb, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt and pepper. Stir to break up the meat until browned – 5 minutes.
Using a fine mesh strainer, strain grease from lamb and discard liquid left in the pot. Return pot to heat and add remaining olive oil and garlic, onions and bell pepper. Stir occasionally until soft – 10 minutes. Add wine and cook stirring occasionally about 10 minutes until almost evaporated. Add reserved tomatoes, currants and lamb and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened – 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat Canola oil in 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant slices and fr in batches, turning occasionally until tender – 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain grease. Do the same with the sliced potatoes.
Melt butter in a 2 qt saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook whisking constantly until pale and silky smooth – 2 minutes. Add the milk in a steady stream and whisk constantly until incorporated. add bay leaf and cook – whisking often until reduced to 2 cups – 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmet and discard bay leaf. Let sauce cool 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and egg yolks and then whisk this into the bechamel sauce until smooth.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potato slices in the bottom of an oval 3 qt baking dish (or two smaller dishes) and season with salt and pepper. Put eggplant slices on top, season and cover with meat sauce. Pour the bechamel over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle parmesan evenly over the top and bake until browned and bubbly 45-50 minutes. Let cook for at least 20 minutes before serving (otherwise it will be a mess on the plate, the cooling lets it solidify so you get nice neat slices.)
Enjoy with a nice red wine or some raki (The Greek answer to Vodka or Tequila)