It’s one of those dishes that is infamous; Moussaka, and it’s more than ‘meats’ the eye. A layered bake with panfried aubergines/eggplants, a rich tomato meat sauce, and topped with a gorgeously cheesy Béchamel sauce.
Moussaka will cast its spell over you, and that’s not a bad thing!
If you saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding with Nia Vardalos, then you’ll have heard it pronounced, and then made fun of. Moussaka, often referred to by the uninitiated as ‘Moose-kaka’, is no laughing matter, it’s delicious!
It’s just one of the many dishes that Chef Kit teaches participants to make; there’s really no reason why you can’t make it easily at home!
This dish might be daunting; aubergines/eggplants have that reputation. But, it needed overwhelm you, it’s very similar to making Italian Lasagna.
The key, or rather keys, is the rich braised tomato and meat sauce, and a creamy-smooth Béchamel sauce. Master those two elements, and you’ll never look back.
Moussaka is the Greek cousin to the Italian lasagne; a multi-layered dish that combines a meat sauce with vegetables, and a golden cheesy top.
You can use other ingredients, like potatoes, courgette/zucchini, and even mushrooms or other vegetables to make a moussaka-styled bake. It will taste delicious!
But, unless you stick to aubergine/eggplant, tomato-based meat sauce, and a béchamel sauce, it won’t be a traditional moussaka. Chef Kit recommends starting with the original, then start improvising.
Does moussaka have to use aubergine/eggplant? That’s the most common question Chef Kit’s asked.
The answers though, may confuse.
Yes, but also no. Traditional Greek moussaka does use aubergine/eggplant, but you will still some recipes using potatoes, or courgette/zucchini, and even mushrooms.
These are great options, especially if you don’t have eggplants, and they taste great, but they won’t make the ‘traditional’ version.
The confusion can also come from Kit’s recommendation for vegetarians and vegans to leave the meat out, or use a meat substitute.
It’s a great recipe, use it as a base, and just swap out the animal-based products for ones you’d prefer. Don’t miss out just because you don’t eat meat!
Moussaka really is more than ‘meats’ the eye! Let’s look at what you’re going to need to make a great moussaka!
All of the ingredients for moussaka are easy to get, you’ll find them in almost all supermarkets. Tinned tomatoes are the best option for the meat sauce; as they’re tinned in their prime and ready for use.
Look for lamb mince, as a preference, but any meat will work. In fact, you can always use a mix, and see what the different flavours bring to the dish.
Baking tray: Unless you fancy scrubbing your pans and baking trays, then make sure they’re nonstick! Having said that, you also want a quality heavy-duty tray for this recipe and others!
Knife: You won’t need a massive knife for this, just a little paring knife. You’ll want to be able to carefully cut down through the layers of pastry, so 10cm is fine. If you don’t have a paring knife, get one, they’re a great addition to your kitchen.
Saucepan: Having a good set of reliable pots and pans in a kitchen is a must. These pans will definitely never let you down! There’s a 3, 4, and 5-piece set, but we think the 3-piece is adequate for most kitchens.
Frying pan or skillet: Make sure you use a non-stick frying pan, or a cast iron skillet – they’re easy to clean, and give great flavour!
Stirring spoons: I’ve mentioned them before, but I really do love these wooden. Wood’s my preferred medium for stirring etc, and I never have to worry about it scratching any non-stick cookware.
Mixing bowl:I’m a big fan of these mixing bowls, the set provides enough variety for a range of cooking applications.
Now, on to making the most amazing traditional moussaka you’ll ever taste!
- Baking tray
- Frying pan or skillet
- Stirring Spoons
- 6 eggplants
- 20 ml vegetable oil for frying the eggplants
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 red onions chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped
- 750 gr beef or lamb mince
- 1 glass of red wine
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 400 gr chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stick Cinnamon
- Pinch Sea salt and Black pepper
- 900 ml milk
- 120 g butter
- 120 g flour
- 2 eggs
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 100 g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri
- To prepare this Greek moussaka recipe, begin by preparing the eggplants. Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them into slices, 1 cm thick. Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
- Rinse the eggplants with plenty of water and squeeze with your hands, to get rid of the excessive water. Pat them dry and fry in plenty of oil, until nicely colored. Place the fried eggplants on some paper, in order to absorb the oil. (For a lighter version of theÂ traditional Greek moussaka try drizzling the aubergines with some olive oil and bake them for 20 minutes instead of frying them).
- Prepare the meat sauce for the moussaka. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the chopped onions and sauté, until softened and slightly colored. Stir in the garlic, tomato puree and the mince breaking it up with a wooden spoon and sauté. Pour in the red wine and wait to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, the sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, 1 bay leaf and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated.
- Prepare the béchamel sauce for the moussaka. Use a large pan to melt some butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste. Add warmed milk in a steady stream; keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir.
- Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning an omelette!
- Assemble the moussaka. For this moussaka recipe you will need a large baking dish, approx. 20*30 cm). Butter the bottom and sides of theÂ pan and layer the eggplants. Pour in the meat sauce and even out. Add a second layer of eggplants, top with the béchamel sauce and smooth out with a spatula.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake the musaka in preheated oven at 180-200C for about 60 minutes, until crust turns light golden brown. Even though it will be really hard.. you should wait for the moussaka to cool down for a while before cutting into pieces.
- Serve the Moussaka with a refreshing Traditional Greek Salad and enjoy over a glass of wine!
Thanks for checking out this post on making moussaka, and I do hope you bake one soon. If you do, please come back and post a comment, or share a photo with the tag: #LarderPantryandGarden.
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