Moussaka is really just a fancy Greek kind of shepherd’s pie. It can, in my experience, tend to be a bit on the oily side, but the authors here are very clear about what a good moussaka should be. Besides, I’ve made this particular recipe before, although not for quite a few years now. I was confident though. This, I knew, was going to be a good meal.
I start by slicing the aubergines, sprinkle them with salt and leave in a colander to drain for a little while. Whilst waiting for those, I fry onions an garlic until golden, then add cinnamon, tomato paste and finally ground lamb. I cook that for a little while, stirring occasionally. Then red wine, salt and pepper, and leave it to simmer gently.
Whilst the meat is simmering, I cook the aubergines: I pat them dry, flour them and then fry in olive oil until golden brown on both sides.
And now for the béchamel. First, infuse the milk with onion, bay leaf, cloves and a little salt, and leave that to cool a little and make a roux. Butter and flour are mixed in a pan and cooked gently for a few minutes. Then I strain the milk into the roux, beating vigorously to mix, and then simmer. Finally, season with nutmeg and add some feta cheese and cook until the cheese has melted.
Now, back to the meat. I stir in some parsley and oregano, and then tip the mixture into a colander to drain off the accumulated fat.
Now for the dish. The recipe is very specific that this should be a deep, oval, ovenproof dish. Luckily I have just the thing. I line it with aubergine slices, sprinkle with pepper and then soon over the drained meat. Then another layer of aubergine and top with the béchamel sauce.
Bake in the oven for half an hour.
When I take it out of the oven, it looks and smells good. I leave it a few minutes to relax before slicing into it. No excess oil, it looks firm. I serve two large slices. It is utterly delicious. The aubergines have a superb melting texture, and the meat is spiced perfectly. This is good. Really good. Why don’t I make this more often?
Last night we had dreamy moussaka for dinner. And I’m now having it for breakfast too.
The book describes it as a Greek equivalent of Shepherds Pie. But this is something else in my book. It’s delightful! I’ve seen moussakas swimming in oil and looking half dead on counters before in Greece. Not this. This one is plump and succulent. The lamb mince is delicious. But aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables when cooked well and this was cooked well, so I have the glossy velvet texture of the vegetable with the chunky mince and then the béchamel sauce! Oh the sauce. Rich, deep and light with an abundance of nutmeg, my most favourite of spices. This meal is like nectar to me.
10/10 (and can we please have this again on a fairly regular basis)
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