It's raining here and I'm pretty sure my work week lasted approximately 8 days. What about yours? I had several people confuse yesterday with Friday, so I'm glad that it's ACTUALLY Friday now. Phew. I'm pooped.
This isn't about me, though. This is about moussaka. Do you know what it is? It's Greek. It's like lasagna...but without noodles...and with eggplant...and lamb..and WHOA is it good.
There are thousands of ways to make it, and I'm not in any way pretending that this is the most authentic method. It IS a delicious method, though, so you should try it! There's cheese, too.
Here's what you need:
- 1 lb ground lamb, beef, or a combo
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 large baking potato
- 3 cups marinara (see how I make mine here)
- 1 cup red wine
- salt, to taste
- ½ cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup grated mozzarella or provolone cheese
- 4 oz feta cheese
- ½ cup bread crumbs
Not bad, right? A jar of marinara would work just fine here, or you can make your own. First, we're going to get some of the moisture out of the eggplant. Peel it partially, taking about half the skin off.
Then, cut it into ½ inch or so slices. You want the slices to all be about the same width.
Now, spread the pieces of eggplant on paper towels and salt them. After a few minutes water will seep out of the eggplant, which will ensure that the moussaka isn't too mushy. Also at this point, stick the potato whole in the microwave for 5 minutes on high. We aren't cooking it all the way through, we just want it cooked enough so that it'll cook in the casserole later in the same amount of time as the eggplant.
While the eggplant is weeping and the potato is cooking, let's make the sauce! Add the ground meat to a large skillet turned to medium-high heat. As the meat cooks, crumble it with a spoon. I really like lamb in this dish, but if it's too strong for you just try half beef half lamb! It still adds a really great flavor. Using a bit of beef helps save money, too.
When the meat is fully cooked and has some brown crispy bits, reduce the heat to medium and add the spices. note: if you're building your marinara as you go, add garlic and onion here too. Then, when I add my marinara, just add crushed tomatoes at that point.
Stir the spices into the meat for 1 minute, then pour in the wine. Let the wine bubble and reduce until it's over half evaporated, then add the marinara sauce.
YUM. Stir this all together and taste it - add some salt or crushed red pepper if you'd like. The allspice is SO good in this.
Turn the heat to low and let the sauce reduce very gently for 15 - 30 minutes. While you're doing that, make the custard mixture. To do that, cube the feta cheese.
Then add the feta, mozzarella, ricotta (I only had cottage cheese and you'd NEVER know the difference), egg, and a sprinkle of salt to a bowl. Stir it all together, and set aside for when we assemble the moussaka!
Prep the partially cooked potato, too. Slice it very thinly, half (or less) as thin as you sliced the eggplant.
Now, the sauce should be thickened a bit. Taste it once more and add anything you'd like. Pat the eggplant dry, too. Now, it's time to assemble the moussaka!
Grab a baking dish. 9x13 or slightly smaller should do it. We're going to make three layers, so you want a dish that is deep enough for that. First, spread one spoonful of the meat mixture in the bottom of the dish.
Then, layer half the eggplant over the sauce. Overlap the slices a bit if you need to - they'll cook down a lot!
Cover the eggplant in ⅓ of the remaining sauce.
Then, make a layer of potato! Use all the potato slices and shingle them together, slightly overlapping. This will help the moussaka stand up nicely when you serve it.
Top the potato layer with another third of the sauce, then make another layer with the remaining eggplant slices.
Now top the eggplant with the remaining sauce. Yum! You could eat this by itself.
OR, you could add all the custard/cheese mixture on top of the whole thing. Yes. Do that. Mine was about to overflow, so I started from the center and spread the custard to about 1 inch away from the edge of the pan. The veggies will shrink as they cook and the cheese will melt and spread naturally without oozing out of the pan.
Top the whole mess with breadcrumbs.
And we're ready to bake! This is so gorgeous, and you can make it way in advance. When you're ready to bake it, do so at 375F for 30 - 45 minutes until bubbly, and you can stick a fork easily through the moussaka (to be sure the potatoes are done). If, halfway though, the top is really brown, just lightly cover it with foil so that the moussaka will keep cooking but the cheese won't get too dark.
And that's it, folks! This is GORGEOUS.
When you take it out, let the moussaka sit for at least 15 minutes to firm up, then gently cut it into squares like you would lasagna.
If you're feeling fancy, you can throw some parsley or fancy olive oil all over your piece. This is really delicious, and a fun take on lasagna. It's easy, too, and the buttery lamb with the red wine sauce...UGH. I want to make this tonight.
Have a great weekend, folks! I've got 20 hours of yoga heading my way starting at 8am tomorrow. Hold me.