greek moussakA recipe

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Moussaka is one of the world's classic dishes. The Moussaka here is pretty much Greek, and quite traditional. Variations on this basic dish are found all over the Mediterranean world. Moussaka is not a hard dish to prepare, given a certain level of technical skill. Before you start, print the recipe, and read it carefully. Get all the ingredients and tools together, and plan to devote the needed time to the job, at least an hour, and probably a bit more. It is well worth the effort, a good Moussaka is wonderful eating and very, very impressive to serve.

A Moussaka is constructed out of three parts that need prior preparation: fried eggplant, a white sauce and a tomato meat sauce, and also bread crumbs and cheese.

The Eggplant

  • 3 Medium eggplants, peel, slice 2/3 in. thick, salt and let drain for 1/2 hour while you prepare the white sauce and start the red sauce. Then dry eggplant and shake in a bag with flour and a good grind of black pepper. Brown in a bit of hot olive oil. Be careful with the amount of oil, and use only enough to brown a few slices at a time. The eggplant will absorb an amazing amount of oil if you let it, and things can become very greasy indeed. Drain the eggplant and reserve.

White Sauce

In a saucepan over medium heat mix together:

  • 6 Tbl Butter
  • 6 Tbl flour

Whisk for a couple minutes until well blended, add:

  • 3 cups milk

Gently bring to a boil, stirring, and simmer couple minutes. Whisk a cup or so of this mixture into:

  • 3 eggs, well beaten

Whisk the egg mixture back into the white sauce and bring up to a gentle simmer, whisking until thick. Do not boil, or sauce will scramble. Add:

  • Good grating of nutmeg
  • dash Tabasco Sauce

Let White Sauce cool. It should be quite thick. Note that the white sauce can be prepared a day ahead of time and refrigerated.

Red Sauce

Brown well together in heavy frying pan:

  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb ground lamb.

Drain grease. Add:

  • large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

Saute around until onion limp. Add:

  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • tsp dried leaf oregano
  • Tbl chpped parsley
  • Tbl chopped mint
  • bit of salt and pepper

Simmer gently until quite thick. The red sauce can be prepared well ahead of time, and keeps well refrigerated.

To assemble the Moussaka

The parts of the Moussaka are:

  • Eggplant
  • White Sauce
  • Red Sauce
  • 1 cup coarse dry bread crumbs
  • 2 cups Mozzarella or other white cooking cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, optional

Use a good sized casserole with a cover. Put about 1/3 of the eggplant on the bottom in a solid layer. Trim eggplant to fit. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture on top. Spread 1/3 of white sauce over meat. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese, 1/3 cup of crumbs. Repeat this set of layers. Then put in a layer of the rest of the eggplant, the rest of the white sauce and cover with the rest of the crumbs. Garnish top with a sprinkle of red chile or paprika and an small handful of chopped parsley. Cover, and bake at 350 degrees for an hour, uncover and bake until browned on top and bubbly. Serve Moussaka with a green salad, good bread and a bottle of light red wine. Greek Retsina wine is an acquired taste, but quite wonderful with Moussaka.

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