Friday, December 13, 2013

Mama's Moussaka

This is one of my favorite Greek dishes.  My mama often made it for me as a child.  I loved it as a kid and I still love it as an adult.  This is my comfort dish when I am stressed out.  My only problem is that I can eat the whole casserole.  I do however, make it lighter than the traditional way of making it, which is frying the veggies, and it comes out even better in my opinion.  It is not greasy and heavy.  I roast all the veggies on a cookie sheet on top of parchment paper.  Parchment paper is key here.  It really does a great job with roasting and there is never any sticking to cookie sheet. I love it.  The vegetables cook to perfection!  You save calories and you don't have to make a mess frying.  

I sometimes make this dish for large dinner parties.  I will prepare the veggies and cook them one to two days before the assembly.  It is a wonderful dish to prepare ahead of time.  You can even do the sauce ahead of time and layer the veggies and sauce, let them mingle in the lasagne dish a day before.  Then make your bechamel right before your planning to bake in oven.  It makes this dish super easy.  You can even assemble the entire dish a day ahead of time and just pop into oven.  Freezes great too. 
2 T. olive oil
1 chopped medium size onion
1 carrot finely diced
2 minced garlic cloves
1 pound ground beef
3 Sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup red or white wine
2 tsp. Italian dried seasoning blend
Salt and Pepper to taste (well season is important for flavor)

In a large pot, add oil, saute onion, carrots, garlic until translucent.  Add ground beef and sausage, continue saute on medium heat, until meat is nicely brown and separated into small pieces.  Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sauce, spices and red wine.   Mix well and simmer on very low heat for about 40 minutes.  Continue to watch so that the sauce does not burn on bottom.  Stir the pot throughout the cooking process and remember to season with Salt and Pepper.

2 large eggplants sliced 1/4 inch thick, cut lengthwise with skins on
4 medium russet potatoes with skins on, washed well cut 1/4 inch thick, length wise

Extra olive oil for drizzling
Salt and Pepper

You need two Cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and greased with olive oil.  In a 350 degree oven lay evenly your eggplant on both cookie sheets, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and place on a plate, set aside.  Now, do your potatoes the same way as eggplant, drizzle again with olive oil and season.  Roast in oven until tender and lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and place on a different plate and set aside. 

Bechamel Sauce
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk plus 1/2 cup half and half (room temperature)
Pinch nutmeg
3 egg yolks
1 cup Romano cheese grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a sauce pan, saute butter until melted, add flour and mix well with butter to form a paste (aka roux).  Add room temperature milk and half and half and whisk vigorously so lumps do not form.  Reduce to medium/low heat and continue whisking.  When it just starts to bubble remove from heat.  Add nutmeg, cheese and 3 egg yolks and whisk again vigorously.  You do not want your eggs to cook so work quickly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a lasagne pan with at least 2 1/2 inch sides usually a 10x12 or 9x13.  It should be deep dish.  Grease with olive oil.  Start with the potatoes on bottom it builds a solid foundation and do an even layer.  Place a ladle of meat sauce on top of potatoes, spread evenly.  Layer with eggplant then sauce, repeat again with potatoes, eggplant, etc.  always using sauce in between veggies.  Your last layer should be sauce.  Then on top of that add your bechamel.  Bake for 50 minutes uncovered, place pan on cookie sheet to protect your oven, sometimes juices overflow.  Cool for at least 25 minutes before serving.  Serve with a Greek salad.  If there is extra sauce leftover, freeze for a later use and serve over pasta.

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