Moussaka is an aubergine/eggplant based dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East. The best known variation outside the region is the Greek one. The name comes from the Arabic: مسقعة musaqqa, literally meaning ‘chilled’ (it is eaten cold in Arabia) . This name is used in Greek cuisine (μουσακάς), Turkish (musakka), and the South Slavic languages (musaka/мусака). Other languages call it simply ‘eggplant casserole’.
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
Degorging the eggplants (if needed):
• 4 Japanese eggplants
◊ Peel the eggplants and slice them about ½” thick.
◊ Put the sliced eggplants in a colander with a deep dish under it (or put it in the sink). Sprinkle salt generously all over the sliced eggplants and let them sweat for 30~ minutes, to extract their bitterness and excess liquid.
Béchamel Sauce / white sauce:
— Prepare the béchamel sauce, before continuing to the meat mixture.
• 3 Tbsp butter
• 3 Tbsp flour
• 400 ml/ 1 2/3 cup very hot milk (to minimize lumping)
• 230 gr/ 8 oz ricotta cheese
• 2 whole eggs plus
• 2 egg yolks (save the whites, you need them for the meat mixture)
• pinch (1/16 tsp) nutmeg
• 1/4 tsp salt
◊ In a medium, non-stick saucepan, over medium-heat, melt the butter, when hot (not burnt) sprinkle and with a wooden spoon stir in flour until smooth. Stir until a light, golden color and begins to rapidly bubble.
◊ Very carefully (as the mixture may splash), gradually stir in the hot milk. Continue vigorously stirring until it starts getting thick. At this point, remove from the heat and add ricotta cheese and stir. Add the beaten eggs and stir. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.
• 1 large onion finely diced -or- well rounded 1 Tbsp caramelized onion
• 680 gr/ 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
• 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped or crushed)
• 230 gr/ 8 oz tomato sauce (or 2 Tbsp tomato paste)
• 1 tsp salt
• smidgen (1/32 tsp) of pepper
• 1/4 tsp oregano
• 1 big potato – peeled and sliced in 13 mm/½” thick
• 2 egg whites beaten
• vegetable oil
◊ Rinse the eggplants very quickly with cold water and immediately pat-dry them with a paper towel.
◊ Add 4 Tbsp oil to a non-stick skillet, brown the sliced eggplants until brown on both sides.
Set them aside. Throw away the oil in the skillet. Rinse the interior with running hot water and have it ready for the next step.
◊ Add 2 Tbsp of oil to the skillet and on medium-high heat, sauté the chopped onions (If using ready caramelized onion, sauté the meat without the onion). When golden, add the ground beef and garlic, stir until browned. Lower the heat to medium.
◊ Add the tomato sauce, stirring a few times, while letting the mixture evaporate and thicken. Add salt, pepper, oregano (and caramelized onion). Turn off the heat and take the skillet off the heat. Let it cool for 10+ minutes.
◊ Place the rack on the middle oven shelf and preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F.
◊ Grease an oven-safe dish with 1 Tbsp oil. (I used 23cm/9″ diameter x 10cm/4″ deep, a 14-cup-capacity oven-safe dish). Line the bottom of the dish with sliced potato.
◊ While vigorously stirring the meat mixture, mix in the beaten egg whites.
◊ Pour 2/3 of the meat mixture over the potatoes. Flatten the meat mixture, layer the fried eggplants, and cover with remaining meat mixture.
◊ Flatten the meat mixture and cover it with béchamel sauce.
◊ Put the uncovered dish in the oven, bake for minimum 1 hour, until the béchamel sauce starts browning and the juice of the mixture is boiling on the sides of the dish. Take out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Option: To soften the texture of the meat mixture, add 1 tablespoon (no more) breadcrumbs when you add the egg whites.
~ Kalí órexi! ~
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