Homemade moussaka

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Today I’m sharing my family recipe for the king of Greek dishes: Moussaka. This meal requires some preparation hours in advance but everything is easy to do. As long as you can spare the time, even a novice cook can do this. This recipe serves 4-5 people.
INGREDIENTS
400 gr minced meat (beef, or a mixture of beef and pork)
1 large red onion (chopped)
1 garlic clove (chopped)
4 potatoes
4 eggplants (aubergines)
Extra virgin olive oil for the tomato sauce
Olive oil or sunflower oil for frying
1/3 carton of tomato puree (passata)
1 medium beef tomato skinned and chopped
Bay leaf
Cinnamon stick
Splash of wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
For the bechamel sauce:
500 ml milk
2 tablespoons of butter
4 heaped tablespoons of all-purpose flour
Nutmeg
1 egg
Sprinkle of dry breadcrumbs
PREPARATION
First, we prepare the eggplants, hours in advance:
I fry the eggplants from the previous evening, then leave them in a strainer in the fridge overnight. The refrigeration helps to drain the oil from the eggplants perfectly for a healthier meal.
But! Before frying the eggplants, we need to get rid of their bitter taste first! How to do that: Wash the eggplants, cut them in half, then in slices. Place them in a big bowl of tap water with A LOT of salt. Leave for half an hour, then drain and dry them with a towel. Note the water was black… that’s the bitterness saying bye-bye!
Shallow fry the eggplants in olive oil or sunflower oil in medium heat from both sides. When golden, remove them from the pan.
Put them in a strainer upright and in layers, starting from the walls and leaving the middle empty. See these two pictures:

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As you can see, I place kitchen paper underneath and put the strainer in a bowl. Trust me, this is necessary. When you remove the bowl from the fridge the next day, there will be a pool of oil at the bottom.
To cook the moussaka, we can start from the mince sauce or the potatoes. Either way is fine. You can even fry the potatoes from the previous evening, if you prefer, so you do all the frying in one go. I prefer to fry them when I make the sauce so I put them in the meal fresh, but it’s up to you.
To fry the potatoes:
Skin the potatoes, wash, and cut in half, then in slices. Dry them with a towel, shallow fry the pieces in olive oil or sunflower oil in medium heat from both sides. When golden, remove them from the pan. Place on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
To make the tomato and mince sauce:
Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil (whatever amount you’d use for a tomato sauce for pasta – say, about 8 tablespoons).
After a few seconds, add the mince. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir and pat the mince so that it all changes color as it cooks in the oil. After 1-2 minutes, add a splash of wine vinegar and stir some more. Add a little warm water, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn up the heat, add the tomato chunks, puree, salt, sugar. Stir, bring to boil. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. If the sauce isn’t thick after that, cook without the lid until it thickens.
To make the bechamel sauce:
Warm up the milk in a pan and well before it boils, add butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and one tablespoon of flour at a time while stirring briskly with an egg whisker so the flour is mixed in well. Simmer without the lid and keep stirring with the whisker. When it thickens remove from heat. Wait 1 minute, stir in the egg briskly with the same whisker.
Take a medium-sized pyrex or ovenproof dish. Lay the potato pieces in the bottom. Leave no open spaces.
Lay half the eggplant slices on top of the potatoes. Again, leave no open spaces.
Spread the mince on top.
Next, lay the rest of the eggplant pieces on top, and finish off with the bechamel sauce.
Sprinkle dry breadcrumbs on top, 3-4 tiny knobs of butter, then do this:
Put your hands under the running tap, then shake your hands over the pan so droplets of cold water fall on the bechamel sauce. Do this 3-4 times. This will stop the food from rising in places so it all stays nicely flat. Old trick πŸ˜‰
Place in a preheated oven and bake at 190 degrees Celsius for about 30-40 minutes or until golden.
Serve with green salad…and devour! Does this look mouthwatering or what?

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Kali orexi!

 

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Do you enjoy Greek food? My romance, The Ebb, is set in 1980s Corfu and brims over with tastes and smells of delicious Greek dishes. Watch the book trailer and download a free excerpt here: http://bit.ly/1OX1diK
Hungry for more? Browse through all my recipes here: https://effrosinimoss.wordpress.com/category/greek-recipes-2/
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14 responses to “Homemade moussaka

  1. Pingback: Homemade moussaka | augustquotes·

  2. I love eggplant and I’ve has moussaka. My husband hates eggplant so I make it for me our me and my mom. But I learned some very useful things here I didn’t know about slicing and draining. I have been slicing, sometimes doing in egg, sometimes not, doing in seasoned bread crumbs and slowly frying in olive oil until crispy..

    I read something very disheartening in 2 places last week – about olive oil. Some companies – well known – are cutting olive oil with cheaper oils, colouring the oil and adding flavouring. I checked what I use and it was sadly on the bad list. Quite a few companies are doing this. I read you can find out by putting your olive oil in the fridge. Olive oil is high in saturated fats – the good ones – and olive should get thicker and cloudy when cold. If it doesn’t you are using bad oil which takes away the reason you use it. It’s healthier. My oil was bad. You should be able to easily Google this. It made me angry. I try hard to eat right and pay extra money because my health is important. There are other fake foods. One is honey.Pasturised clear honey has high fructose corn syrup added to cut it. That one really made me upset. I don’t buy anything with that in it so they must be lying on the label.. I can’t afford to get it tested. To be safe it said to use organic unfiltered honey, which I usually do but not always. So are they lying on the label? Sadly too many people don’t care

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    • Hi Sonni, and welcome to my blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns. I am also very careful when I buy food and always read the labels. High frustose sorn syrup is poison. I never touch the stuff, not even corn or soya. I am lucky though, living in Greece, when it comes to olive oil and honey. It is always easy to find pure products as the checks are strict, especially with olive oil. I always buy extra virgin, never the mixtures. I don’t know what to suggest if in your part of the world you think they are lying on the label… pure honey crystallizes in cold weather. If it has additives, like glucose, it doesn’t do that so you can tell when it’s not pure. Hope this helps. Keep googling, my friend. A mind that never rests in finding out the truth, is sure to find it. Being lazy, gullible or indifferent about researching food products nowadays is lethal. I never stop researching and refuse to just eat anything without knowing the ins and outs. It’s so difficult to safeguard one’s health these days and the authorities just don’t care. It’s up to us, individually, to do it. Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • So true. I started researching 30 years ago. People come to me to ask about food but they can’t do it themselves. So many fat people that they had to change it that fat is beautiful. No it isn’t. It’s more than just fast, it is the food choices. I look in people’s grocery carts and want to ask them if they are really going to eat that because nothing is food. Everyone in my family has diabetes. Everyone has high collateral and high blood pressure. For 8 years I tried to teach my mother how to change her diet because of diabetes. She got mad. My family got mad. They said I was starving her because she lost 10 lbs because I cooked for her. They said I was hurting her and kicked me out of the family -seriously. Now I’ve been my mother’s caretaker because she had a stroke – of the small blood vessels – diabetes. Now they are “trying” to eat better, but still fat. The American food companies are so corrupt. It is no longer safe to eat the wheat. Monsanto sprays Round Up Ready – a killer – on ALL commercial wheat fields. It’s known to cause cancer. People don’t care our they don’t know. We fight Monsanto but even “organic” labels are fighting labeling. We’d be too confused they say. So – grow it yourself or buy local you can trust. Even labels of olive oil I thought I could trust – I can’t. Thanks for the tips. When I found out about corn syrup in honey I choked. I knew it best to by organic unpasteurized. They put that garbage in everything along with veg oil and msg, which has 20 different names. The label says No MSG!! but it has autolysed yeast extract – same thing. Oh well. May you live long and prosper!

        Liked by 1 person

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