Mousaka

Mousaka

Mousaka

This is a complex dish. I’ll say that right off. However, I try to simplify by making extra filling and then freezing it so that you just need new eggplant and sauce. It’s totally worth it though and is my go to dish when company comes. You can make it in the morning and just put it together an hour or so before they arrive. Then it cooks, quietly waiting for you while you deal with other things and visit. I love the complex flavors and eggplant layer. It’s rich, but not too rich, especially when paired with a salad or basic white rice. I like to complete the Greek theme (although this recipe actually came from an excellent Russian cookbook.) and make baklava for dessert. Also, to lighten slightly I make mine always with the traditional lamb filling. Ground beef is good, but just too heavy for me sometimes. I love the taste of lamb and make all of my middle eastern dishes with it. Plus my children enjoy it so much they are willing to sniff the lamb before rejecting the whole thing. #winning right there.

Note: the filling makes enough for two casseroles. I use half and freeze half each time I make this recipe. If you want to make the whole thing at once use a 9×13 pan and double the number of eggplants and amount of sauce.

 Serves 3-4

Reheats: Yes

Freezes: Yes

Kid Friendly Task: Complaining about the eggplant

Ingredients-Bottom Layer

  • 1 large purple Italian eggplant

  • 2/3 c olive oil for frying

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • ¼ c bread crumbs (seasoned or unseasoned, it doesn’t much seem to matter)

 

Ingredients-Filling

  • 1 lb ground lamb

  • 4 tbsp butter

  • 2 medium onions, finely diced

  • 1 can diced tomatoes

  • 2 tbsp dried parsley

  • ½ c dry white wine

  • ½ tsp oregano

  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

  • 1.5 tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp black pepper

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • ¼ c bread crumbs

  • ½ parmesan cheese

Ingredients-Top layer

  • 6 tbsp butter

  • 6 tbsp flour

  • 3 c hot milk

  • 1 tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp pepper

  • Pinch nutmeg

  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • ¼ c parmesan cheese

Directions

  1.  Prepare eggplants. Slice the eggplants (unpeeled) into 1/8 in wide rounds (think big, but thin). Heat some of the oil (3-4 tbsps) over medium high heat in a skillet. Meanwhile butter an 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the buttered baking dish. Fry the eggplant slices in oil (adding more as needed) until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

  2.  Prepare the filling. In a heavy bottom skillet (I use my cast iron one) heat the butter over medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they are clear and softened. Add the meat and break up the large chunks with a fork. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the meat is fully cooked. Turn heat to low and add the tomatoes, parsley, wine, oregano, salt and black pepper. Cook for 15 mins or until the liquid is absorbed. Cool. Add the eggs, bread crumbs, cinnamon and parm cheese. At this point I put half (about three cups) in jars and freeze for another time.

  3.  Prepare the sauce. Cook the butter and flour together over low heat for two minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook for 3 minutes. Mix ¼ c sauce with the egg yolks and stir well. Add the parmesan cheese and the egg yolks to the rest of the sauce and cook for 2 minutes more. Do not let boil. Take off heat.

  4.  Make casserole. Heat oven to 325. Layer half of the fried eggplant slices on the breadcrumbs in the buttered baking dish. Add the meat filling. Add the other half of the fried eggplants, layering over the meat filling. Carefully pour sauce over the middle two layers. Cook for 1.5 hours. Let cool slightly before you cut it or all of the layers will run together (I never bother all that much, but I warn you in advance…)

Enjoy!

Mousaka

Mousaka

 

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