Moussakás

Moussakás

This is a dish that has several stages and it may be  easier to do the meat sauce and béchamel elements a day ahead. On the second day cook the aubergines and potatoes and assemble it all.

Meat Sauce Ingredients

1kg beef mince

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tab olive oil

1 tab tomato purée

100ml white wine (optional)

200ml water

1 tab chopped parsley

1 stick cinnamon

Salt and Pepper

Making the Meat Sauce

Heat the olive oil in a deep pan, then cook the chopped onions until soft.

Add the mince and stir, breaking it up,  until it is browned.

Add the tomato purée and stir in, cooking it at the same time for a minute or two.

If you are using wine, addd it now. When the alcohol has evaporated add the water and stir well.

Next, add the seasoning, the cinnamon and the chopped parsley.

Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 40 mins.

Allow to cool. Obviously if you are doing this a day ahead of the final cooking, you will need to refrigerate it.

Béchamel Sauce Ingredients

1.5 litre milk

1 bay leaf

A few whole black peppercorns

150gm butter

100gm plain flour

Salt and ground  pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

150gm grated kefalotyri or parmesan

Making the Béchamel Sauce 

In a large pan, heat the milk, along with any spices or seasoning . If you have the time, it is good to do this a little ahead and heat the milk with a bay leaf and some whole peppercorns. Allow it to steep a little; the added fragrance is worth the effort.

In another pan, one that is big enough to take the warm milk, melt the butter. Lower the heat and now add the flour, stirring constantly. Over a low heat,  allow the flour to bubble a bit but do not stop stirring – it burns very easily.

Take the butter/flour combination off the heat and gradually, one ladleful at a time, add the warm milk, incorporating each spoonful before adding the next.

Once that is done, return the pan of milk/butter/flour mixture to the heat, stirring constantly until it thickens to the consistency of thick custard.

Remove from the heat and add the ground cinnamon and ground pepper. Add the grated cheese and stir well. Put the pan to one side to cool. This is your béchamel sauce.

Vegetables 

5-6 medium sized aubergines

3 medium sized potatoes

Olive oil for frying  (If your budget doesn’t stretch to masses of olive oil, using a good quality sunflower oil for frying is fine).

Preparing the Vegetables

Peel the potatoes and, leaving them whole, put them in a small pan and boil them for about 8-10 minutes, just until the surfaces become slightly floury. Rinse well and allow to cool.

Slice the aubergines as thinly as possible, using a sharp knife. You need enough to cover your eventual roasting pan three times

In a frying pan put enough oil to fry 5-7 slices of aubergine at a time. Don’t be tempted to fry too many at a time – it doesn’t save time, they just sweat ! Put the fried slices onto a large plate and carry on with the rest until they are all cooked.

Meanwhile, take the boiled potatoes and slice them, again, as thinly as possible with a sharp knife. They will be sticky, so spread them out on a plate or a board.

Assembling the Moussaka 

2 eggs, well beaten

100gm grated kefalotyri or parmesan

Also, the meat sauce (previously prepared) the béchamel sauce (previously prepared) and the cooked vegetables.

In a bowl beat the eggs until they are frothy. Add them to the cooled, thick, milk mixture and beat well.

Set the oven to 170 degrees.

Take a large roasting tin and rub round the inside with a buttered (or oiled) paper.

Line the bottom of the roasting pan with the sliced potato. Next put a layer of fried aubergine. Sprinkle the layer with a little salt.

Over this spread approximately half of the meat ragú mix.

On top of this put about a quarter of the béchamel and gently spread it over the mince.

Now cover this with the remaining fried, sliced aubergines. Again sprinkle this layer with a little salt.

Top all this with the remaining béchamel. Spread it over evenly and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.

Put the roasting pan into the centre of the heated oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes, until golden on top and well cooked.

Serve with a salad and good bread.

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