Well Dined



I love Greek food, and one of my all-time favorite dishes is Moussaka (Greek lasagna). It is hearty and comforting and perfect for winter. I adapted this recipe from Diane Kochilas (prominent Greek cookbook author). Traditionally the eggplant and potato are fried, but in my version I bake them in order to be a little healthier. Also, I like to mix in beef with the traditional lamb. Also, you may notice that the Greek version of bechamel sauce is a little different than the Italian or French version- involving egg yolks and lemon zest.

serves 8-10

2lb potato, scrubbed and thinly sliced
3lb eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions
2lb any combination of ground beef and lamb (I prefer a lb each)
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups (1 28oz can) whole plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
pinch allspice
pinch nutmeg
3 cups milk
1 cup cream
8 tbsp unsalted butter
8 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the eggplant slices in a bowl, douse with salt, let sit for 45 min. Lay the potato slices on a baking sheet, brush both sides with oil, bake 15 min. Set aside on paper towels. Rinse the eggplant slices, pat dry, lay on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Turn oven down to 350 deg and bake 15 min. Set aside on paper towels.

Meat sauce: In a large saute pan, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the ground meat and brown. Add the white wine and cook until mostly evaporated. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and spices. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer 45 min. Season with salt and pepper.

Bechamel sauce: Heat the cream and milk together until bubbles form at the edge of the pan, remove from heat. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the flour and cook until it no longer smells raw, 3-4 min. Gradually add the hot milk, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth. After the last addition, cook for 5 min. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper, nutmeg. Stir in the feta cheese. Allow to cool slightly, mix in the egg yolks and lemon zest. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

To assemble the moussaka: Spread the bread crumbs into the bottom of a 9x13 lasagna or casserole dish. Arrange the potatoes in a layer on top, arrange the eggplant on top of the potatoes. Spread the meat mixture evenly over the eggplant, and top with the bechamel sauce. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 deg for 45 min- 1 hour. Cover with foil if it gets dark too fast.

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