One of the things I enjoy doing is reading the supermarket discounts and create dishes with those ingredients. As potatoes and bratwurst where one of the discount offers, I didn’t have to think that hard. I was going to make a stew with sausage in beer, accompanied by potatoes, whether boiled/mashed/baked/au gratin, potatoes it would be. Though apparently the bf is not a big fan of mashed potatoes.. How is that even possible. It’s mashed potatoes, there’s nothing to not like there.
Anyway, I grabbed my purse and my bf and dashed off towards the supermarket, meanwhile trying to convince the bf that mashed potatoes can be really tasty, and fun, because of the gravy volcano and whatnot. He didn’t seem very impressed. All of a sudden he stopped and gave me the sort of grin that made it clear he was thinking about other foods then mashed potatoes, or any kind of potatoes, for that matter. “You know, I have a sudden craving for lasagna”. Oh god, I knew it was going to be a long shopping session, because I started out with a plan and now the plan had been overthrown it was free for all in the food-related parts of my brain (i.e. most of it). Lasagna is great, obviously, but I just can’t make a simple lasagna. I want to make it properly, with a ragú sauce that simmers for at least 3 hours. And since it was already 6’o’clock, that just wasn’t a good plan. But it was going to be a challenge to get the lasagna plan out of his head. Damn it, now I was getting that craving too, especially with grilled aubergines in between the layers..
Hold on. Somehow, some little dots in my brain were connecting aubergine, potatoes and minced meat together into a bright, blinking neon sign that read ‘MOUSSAKA’. Dear lord, my brain is a genius. I was going to make moussaka. Turned out it was a good thing too, changing our food plans, as the supermarket was clean out of bratwurst. And I discovered the bf had never(!) eaten moussaka before, he didn’t even know what it was. So obviously I had a mission of revealing the glorious world of moussaka to him. Though trying to explain it wasn’t so easy, the best I could come up with was “Er… it’s sort of a.. greek lasagna?”.
My apologies to Greece and Italy, no insult intended there in any way.
Since the bf still has the idea in his head that he sort of dislikes aubergine, he was a bit hesitant towards my suggestion of moussaka. But after assuring him that he would definitely like it, he caved.
Unfortunately they didn’t have any minced lamb at my supermarket, but beef or pork (or a combination) will do just fine as well!
Greek lasagna, aka Moussaka. (serves 4, or 2 lucky people for two glorious days)
- 400 grams (14 oz.) minced meat, any kind you like. (I used beef)
- 3 or 4 large potatoes, peeled, sliced and parboiled
- 2 or 3 large aubergine, sliced and salted (to drain excessive water)
- 1 large or 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 500 mL (18 fl oz.) passata di tomata
- 1 glass of red wine
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- Grated cheese, preferably kefalotiri, but since you probably won’t be able to find that, parmesan or pecorino will do just fine.
- Freshly ground pepper and seasalt
- 50 grams (1.8 oz, or half a stick) of butter
- 50 grams (1.8 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 400 mL (14 fl oz) warm milk
- 25 grams (1 oz) grated cheese
- 1 egg or 2 egg-yokes.
- a pinch of nuttmeg
- salt and pepper
Start of by heating a grill-pan, and drying off your aubergine slices. Spread some olive oil on both sides of the slice, and when the pan is hot, start grilling them in batches. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180 oC (356 oF). You can bake your potato slices in batches in a pan, or you can bake them all at once in the oven (which is what I did), just until they start to look crispy.
Now onto the meat sauce. Heat a glug of olive oil, and when it’s hot, add the onion, garlic and oregano. Turn the heat down to and let it all simmer until the onion is translucent. Now turn up the heat, and add the meat, immediately breaking it up with a wooden spoon, browning it properly. When your meat is browned, pour in the glass of red wine, pour another glass, and have yourself a sip. You’ve earned it already!
when most of the wine has evaporated, add the passata, cinnamon and cumin. Stir well, turn down the heat, and let your sauce simmer. Make sure to occasionally stir it again, so it won’t stick to the pan. Keep tasting (don’t ‘taste’ all the sauce, you want to keep some for the actual dinner) and adjusting, adding salt and pepper, maybe some more cinnamon or cumin. Just whatever you like.
When your sauce is almost ready, start the bechamel. Warm the milk, in a microwave or a pan, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure the milk is warm, but not boiling. Melt the butter, and in batches, add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon or a whisk, make sure all the flour is merged with the butter. Next, gradually add the milk, stirring continuously until you have a smooth mixture. Add the seasoning, and stir again. Taking the pan of the heat, add the cheese and the egg(yokes). Stir vigorously, and taste to see if it needs a little more seasoning.
Next you bring it all together in a roasting pan. You could layer the Moussaka like a lasagna, but I decided to keep it simple. So first, pour in all the sauce. Next, layer your potatoes. I just did one layer but then again, my roasting pan was quite large, so for a good sauce/vegetable ratio I had to keep it with the one layer. Then add your aubergine slices (same story as with the potatoes, but this is free for interpretation).
Finish off with the bechamel sauce and the rest of the grated cheese. It should look something like this:
|Ready to be baked into heaven!|
Place your dish in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese is nice golden layer. Let it cool for a little bit before you cute it, so the bechamel can set properly. It’s a lot easier to cut it then (something I remembered while I was cutting it, unfortunately).
|Looking good there..|
As I was taking it out of the oven, the bf was already lingering around in the kitchen, because it smelled just amazing. And seeing the golden cheese/bechamel layer he was already convinced he would like it.
|It got the thumbs up!|
After actually tasting it, he was in aw and said he loved it even more than lasagna, and that was just a bit with all aubergine. Needless to say, his first moussaka experience was a great success!
|Obviously just one piece isn’t enough.|
This time when I say, stay tuned because soon there will be a new post, I really mean it. And it’s going to be a special one, involving me skinning and preparing a monk fish! Quite an accomplishment, as I haven’t been able to eat fish for at least 5 years..
So anyway, stay tuned, and keep reading & cooking!