Moussaká is perhaps the most emblematic Greek summer dish. It can be found at almost every restaurant in Greece and every Greek restaurant in the world. Basically it is made with two summer vegetables, eggplant and zucchini, but potatoes are usually added or used as a substitute to one of the two basic vegetables.
Even though it seems a bit difficult to make, it actually isn’t. All you have to do is master the time needed for preparation.
Today we’ve got the basic recipe that combines eggplant and potato.
For the minced meat sauce:
700 gr minced beef meat
1 large white onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch allspice
½ cup esti extra virgin olive oil
For the vegetable layers:
3-4 eggplants (about 2 kilos on the whole) cut into 1 cm thick lengthwise slices
2 potatoes (about ½ kilo on the whole) cut into 1 cm thick lengthwise slices
Esti extra virgin olive oil for frying
For the béchamel sauce:
1 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups warm milk
8 egg yolks
1 pinch nut meg
salt to taste
1 cup grated Kefalotíri cheese (or Parmesan)
Begin with the vegetables:
Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them with abundant salt. Cover with an inverted plate that is weighted down. Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture is drawn out. Let them sit for about an hour. Don’t forget that the salt also helps to remove some of the bitterness of the eggplant.
Rinse the eggplant slices under cold running water and pat dry in a clean tea towel. Heat three tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and fry the eggplants for 2-3 minutes on each side, adding more oil when necessary. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
Cook the potatoes in boiling water for five minutes, then drain in a colander under running water until cold.
Prepare the sauce:
In a large pan sauté the minced meat until brown and all liquid has been saved up. Add olive oil, sauté for a couple of minutes than add chopped onion and garlic. Sauté for a further few minutes, then add the wine. When wine is reduced to a half add tomatoes and tomato paste, cinnamon and allspice and let simmer for about ½ hour or until excess liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven at 180 degrees C
Prepare béchamel sauce:
Melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour to the melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Let the flour cook for a minute but do not let it brown. Add the warmed milk to the mixture in a steady slow stream, whisking continuously.Simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens a bit but does not boil. Remove from heat, and stir in the egg yolks, which you will have beaten beforehand, and a pinch of nutmeg. Return to heat and stir until the sauce thickens.
Prepare the moussaká:
Lightly grease with some esti extra virgin olive oil a large deep baking pan .Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom- you may use all the slices of the potatoes. Top with a layer of eggplant slices. Add the meat sauce on top of the first eggplant layer and sprinkle with some grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle with some of the grated cheese.
Pour the béchamel sauce over the last eggplant layer. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until the béchamel sauce gets a nice golden brown color. Let it cool a bit before serving.