When I was a kid all diners were run by Greeks. They always had the typical 300 or so expected diner items on the menu, but they also included some Greek specialities. I found ordering gyros, souvlaki, and moussaka to be down right exotic. Moussaka was always one of my favorites... Most diners seemed to make their topping from leftover mashed potatoes, which was delicious but a little heavy.
In my version I make more of a traditional light béchamel topping and to save time I sauté the eggplant and mix it with the meat instead of layering it. The result is all of the classic moussaka flavor with a lot less work.
Moussaka: A Simple Version
by Diane Balch
preparation time: 30 minutes serves: 4 - 6
1 large potato sliced thinly and peeled
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 large eggplant peeled and chopped
1 pound of ground beef
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon of clove
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
Bechamel Sauce ingredients:
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of whole milk
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of salt
1 pinch of nutmeg
1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 9x9 inch baking dish with olive oil. Place slices of potato close together in the pan.
2) In a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons of oil on medium high heat. Saute onions, garlic, and eggplant. Do not brown the garlic. Add clove to oil to help it bloom.
3) When vegetables are soft remove them from the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon of oil heat. Add the beef and cover it with worcestershire sauce. Saute until it is no longer pink, but do not brown the meat.
4) Add the vegetables back into the skillet and mix them with the meat. Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper.
5) Layer the meat vegetable mixture over the potatoes in the baking dish.
6) In a sauce pan melt butter on medium heat to make bechamel sauce.
7) When the butter is melted whisk in the flour. Whisk until the flour is smooth about 1 minute.
8) Add milk slowly and continue to whisk. Keep whisking until the mixture begins to thicken not boil.
9) Remove pan from heat and slowly whisk in the egg yolks, parmesan, nutmeg, and salt. When the sauce is mixed well pour it over the meat vegetable mixture.
10) Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top becomes a golden brown and the sides are bubbling.
11) Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Great served with a greek side salad.
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