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Moussaka with Béchamel Sauce

Moussaka with Béchamel Sauce

Tags:  Beef, Lamb, Meat Dishes,
Featured Spices
2 eggplants
salt, as needed
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil for greasing if needed
½ pound potatoes
sprigs of parsley (optional garnish)

Meat filling:
1 pound ground lamb or beef
½ cup red wine
1 onion, finely diced
3 - 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
½ teaspoon allspice, ground
½ teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar

Béchamel sauce:
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup flour
2 cups milk, warm
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

For Baking:
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
½ cup crumbled feta (or you can use grated Romano or Parmesan)
½ cup ricotta (or other soft cheese)

Moussaka is a Greek casserole made with lightly spiced and browned lamb (or beef) and layers of tender eggplant and potato slices. The top is made of a creamy béchamel sauce and grated cheese, toasted and delicious. If you love casserole, you’re going to swoon over this meaty, cheesy, delectable Greek version.

Preparing eggplant and potatoes

Wash the eggplants under cool running water and pat them dry. Then cut off the stem and trim off a thin slice from the bottom. Discard trimmings.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel skin from top to bottom, leaving ½ strips on your eggplants. Then cut crosswise into ¼ inch round slices. Place slices in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Set colander over a sink or bowl and allow to drain for 30 – 60 minutes. Rinse eggplant slices and pat dry. Set aside.

Peel potatoes and place in a pot. Pour enough cold water into the pot to cover the potatoes. Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes until just becoming tender (about 10 minutes). Test for tenderness with a fork or toothpick. Drain the potatoes and cut crosswise into ¼ inch round slices. Set aside for later.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly grease foil or parchment lined baking sheet with oil.

Crack eggs and separate egg whites into a small mixing bowl, reserving yolks for the sauce. Whisk egg whites until lightly beaten.

Spread breadcrumbs on a large plate or in a shallow bowl.

Rinse eggplant slices under cool water and pat them dry. Dip eggplant slices in egg whites and then lightly roll them in breadcrumbs. Place on baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and set aside. Set oven temperature on 350 degrees F.

Preparing meat filling

Peel and mince the garlic.
Peel and finely dice the onion.
Wash and finely chop the parsley.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in saucepan over medium-high. Then the following ingredients:
lamb (or beef)
cinnamon
allspice
paprika
salt
pepper

Cook lamb and seasonings until meat is browned, stirring to break up any chunks. Drain juices and transfer meat mixture to a heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Place saucepan back on the burner and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté onions until transparent and soft (about 5 – 7 minutes) and then add the garlic. Continue sautéing until aromatic (about 1 minute).

Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the lamb back into the pan, and pour in your red wine. Allow red wine to reduce until nearly all the liquid is gone (about 5 minutes).

Next add the diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes (or until sauce has thickened). Stir in the oregano and sugar. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Transfer into heatproof bowl and set aside.

Making béchamel sauce (a.k.a. whisk, whisk and whisk some more!)

In a small saucepan, slowly heat milk over low. As soon as milk begins to bubble, remove from heat.

Melt butter in a clean saucepan and whisk in flour. Continue whisking for 2 minutes, and then whisk in the heated milk. Continue cooking, whisking continuously, until sauce is thickened. Whisk in nutmeg and turn off heat.

In small heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks until they become smooth. Fill a ladle with hot milk sauce and slowly drizzle the sauce into your egg yolks while continuing to whisk to keep eggs from scrambling. Refill ladle once more and slowly whisk sauce into yolks until well mixed.

Slowly pour egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of your milk sauce, whisking continuously. Still whisking, add ricotta (or your chosen soft cheese) and continue mixing until very smooth.

Building moussaka

Lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish.

Place a layer of eggplant slices in bottom of dish (using roughly half of your slices). Place a thin layer of potatoes on top of the eggplant (again, only using about half).

Ladle half of your meat mixture over the potatoes. Using a spatula, spread the mixture out in an even layer. Add a second layer of eggplant over the meat, using up all of your slices. Use remaining potato slices to make a layer over the eggplant. Ladle remainder of meat mixture over the potatoes, smoothing the top.

Pour béchamel sauce on top of the second layer of meat mixture, spreading smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle crumbled feta (or your chosen grated cheese) over the top, spreading evenly to cover top completely.

Bake moussaka until the top turns golden brown (about 45 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

Cut into desired serving sizes and enjoy! Optionally garnish moussaka with sprigs of parsley.

Summary
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Recipe Name
Moussaka with Béchamel Sauce
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