(Click here to read my review.)
One of their signature dishes that we just could not fit in, was the Moussaka, and so with a signed copy of Ana Sortuns book – Spice , in my suitcase, I returned home to try my luck at one of these beautiful dishes.
It got the vote from my guests as the best thing I have ever cooked! So thank you Ana for sharing….
Here is my version slightly adapted to save a little time and with our local ingredients.
Moussaka (serves 8 )
6 Tablespoons (90ml) butter
2 Tablespoons (30ml) plus ½ cup (125ml) olive oil
1 kg lean lamb mince (if you can’t get mince use lamb sausages and remove the meat from the skin)
Salt and Pepper to taste (don’t be shy with the salt, taste and add as you progress)
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons (30ml) tomato paste
2 teaspoons (10ml) ground cinnamon
½ cup (125ml) golden raisins
2 tins of tinned whole peeled tomatoes (drain the juice)
1 small bunch of parsley finely chopped (1/2 cup )
4 Tablespoons (60ml) finely chopped fresh mint
2 – 3 large eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch slices
4 Tablespoons (60ml) all purpose flour
2 ½ cups (625ml) milk, slightly warmed
½ (2.5ml) teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup (250ml) Greek yogurt
2 cups (500ml) grated kasseri cheese (or a strong cheese like gruyere)
2 Tablespoons (30ml) dried mint for garnish
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and when the butter starts to brown, add the lamb to brown for about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir, and break up while it is browning.
- Add the onion, garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon, and raisins. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes. The lamb may release lots of natural juices, which is fine. Season with salt and pepper. The salt will bring out all the flavors.
- Add the tomatoes and increase the heat, while simmering for about 20 minutes until the mixture has reduced and becomes quite dry and fluffy. Mind it does not catch on the bottom, so stir during the simmer.)
- The juices will have evaporated and caramelized in the pan. Remove and allow to cool. Then add the chopped parsley and mint.
- Preheat the oven to 180 o C.
- Place the potatoes in cold water and boil over high heat until they are tender. Drain and allow the steam to evaporate for about 5 minutes.
- Mash with a fork until all the lumps have gone and season well with salt and pepper. (no – you are not going to add butter and milk here as much as you feel you want to!)
- Place your eggplant slices on a baking sheet and brush them generously with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. The eggplant should absorb all the oil and go little translucent. They must not be dry. Roast for 10 – 12 minutes until just soft. Set aside to cool.
- Make a roux by melting the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan on a medium to low heat. When the butter starts to bubble, whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or so.
- Now whisk in the milk and cook for about 5 minutes or so until the milk has thickened and the sauce has started to bubble. (On a medium to low heat – stirring all the time.)
- Whisk in the nutmeg, 1 cup of yogurt, cheese and salt and pepper. (Keep adding salt until the flavors come together.)
- To assemble the dish – either plate in this order into a square dish – or do individual ramekins which look ‘chef like ‘ and are sure to impress. Men need two ramekins for a main course and ladies one (I always keep a few extra as some ladies may want seconds!)
- Spoon a tablespoons or two of the sauce into the bottom of your dish, or each ramekin. (Ramekin size should hold about 1 cup 250ml of filling)
- Place 2 or 4 slices (depending on size of your eggplant) criss crossing in the bottom of the ramekin, so that the long ends hang over the side.
Now add the lamb filling, until the ramekin just over ¾ fill. Fold over the eggplant so that it has encased the bundle of lamb. Press down. Pack on about 2 – 3 tablespoons of the potato and smear with the back of a spoon so it is even and well packed. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until just bubbly. Follow the same process in a deep casserole dish (preferably square or rectangular in shape) On the right is the inverted moussaka with a dollop of hummus and a greek salad.
- Invert each hot moussaka onto a place and remove the ramekin. Spoon on another tablespoon of the white sauce and sprinkle with some dried mint or as a different topping you could take the remaining Greek yogurt, mix with a sprinkle of dried mint, and add a spoonful of this to the top of each moussaka.
- Serve with a traditional Greek salad (chopped up cucumber, olives, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, sliced red onion dressed with olive oil, salt and dried oregano ) and some hummus accompanied by fresh hot pita bread.
- If you have not used the ramekins and have used a rectangular dish, using a knife demarcate squares so that it is easier for your guests to dish up for themselves.