Moussaka – A Taste of Greece

October 5, 2016

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

Happy October!

For those of you who don’t know, October is National Cookbook Month. I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity for me to buy a cookbook (great excuse, right?) and try out some new recipes. Throughout October I’ll be posting recipe reviews in between my regular posts.

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

When deciding on which cookbook to buy, it took me some time before I decided on A Taste of Greece: Recipes, Cuisine & Culture. First of all, it’s hardcover and the cover is beautiful. Yes, yes, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover blah blah blah. But honestly, look how pretty. I was instantly drawn to it. Second, it’s co-written by Princess Tatiana of Greece. How badass is it that this book was written by a princess? You rarely come across a cookbook author whose title is Her Royal Highness.

One factor that makes this cookbook so special is that it compiles many well-known personalities’ stories and special bond to Greece. For me, I’ve never been to Greece nor have I experienced a variety of Greek dishes. My only tie to Greece would be that my Japanese grandma used to own and run a Greek restaurant in Osaka when my mom was young. Greek sailors would get off at the port, come to my grandma’s restaurant and request dishes they were missing from home. If it was something my grandma didn’t know how to make, she’d invite them into the kitchen to teach her how to make it. Sadly, the restaurant was closed by the time I was in the picture and I never got to taste my grandma’s Greek food.

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

I chose moussaka as my first recipe to try. I’m not sure if my grandma served it in her restaurant, but it’s one of the most iconic Greek dishes.

Slice the eggplants, sprinkle with salt and set aside for half an hour to get rid of any bitterness. After the 30 minutes, rinse with water and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in a skillet and fry the eggplant in batches until they’re golden. Lay them on paper towels and drain the excess oil.

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

For the meat sauce, heat a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the finely chopped onion until they become transparent. Add the ground beef and cook until completely browned. Add white wine (I used Chilean Sauvignon Blanc), crushed tomatoes, parsley, cinnamon (I used powdered as I didn’t have cinnamon sticks), sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer until it isn’t watery. The book suggests about 20 minutes of simmering, but my meat sauce took 30 minutes.

When I got to making the béchamel, I realized that the recipe called for large volumes of the ingredients which didn’t match the amount of béchamel shown on the photo. So I cut the recipe in half, but even that seemed like more than what’s on the photo. In a saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Stir in the flour and cook until the flour starts to turn golden. Add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk to get rid of any lumps. Season with salt pepper, and nutmeg. The egg was labeled as optional so I skipped it.

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

To assemble, take a 9 x 13-inch dish (I used a casserole dish) and lay half the eggplants down and top with half the meat sauce and half the béchamel, then repeat. Although the cookbook tells you to leave the béchamel until the very end after all the eggplant and meat sauce have been layered, I decided to put a layer in the middle. Eggplant, meat sauce, béchamel, eggplant meat sauce, béchamel.

When I was about to start assembling, it seemed like I had too much meat sauce. So I took about a cup or two of meat sauce and tossed some short cut pasta in it as a side dish. It’s probably not traditional, but it worked.

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (which I also only used half the amount called for in the recipe), and bake at 374°F (190°C) for 1 hour. I took mine out after 50 minutes, as it seemed golden enough. Let it cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

I have never tried moussaka before making this so I have no baseline to compare it to, but it was absolutely delicious! Of course, I tasted both the meat sauce and béchamel to make sure I’d added enough seasoning, but tasting them together with the eggplant and cheese took it to another level. The eggplant turned soft and fluffy, almost mousse-like. Although the eggplants were fried and therefore oily, the texture kept this dish very light. The book suggests grilling or simmering the eggplants, or even experimenting with other vegetables, which I might try eventually.

To be completely honest, I was a little bummed out that the moussaka didn’t look beautiful like it does in the book. But one bite and that thought was completely forgotten. It’s that good. After the first bite, I knew I was definitely making this dish again.

Moussaka - A Taste of Greece

Moussaka

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 8

Moussaka

From the book, A Taste of Greece: Recipes, Cuisine & Culture. Recipe rewritten in my own words and with the adjustments made during cooking.

Ingredients

    Eggplant
  • 3 lb (1.4kg) eggplant
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup (240ml) olive oil
    Meat sauce
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb (453.6g) ground beef
  • 1 cup (240ml) dry white wine
  • 2 cans (14 oz/ 800g) crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
    Béchamel
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (52.5g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (720ml) milk
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
    Garnish
  • ¼ cup (15g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Fresh basil or parsley

Instructions

  1. Slice the eggplants, sprinkle with salt and set aside for half an hour to get rid of any bitterness. After the 30 minutes, rinse with water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of oil and cook the onion until they become transparent. Add the ground beef and cook until completely browned. Add the white wine, crushed tomatoes, parsley, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer until thick, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 374°F (190°C).
  4. Heat 1 cup of oil in a skillet and fry the eggplant in batches until they're golden. Lay them on paper towels and drain the excess oil.
  5. In a saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Stir in the flour and cook until the flour starts to turn golden. Add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk to get rid of any lumps. Season with salt pepper, and nutmeg.
  6. To assemble, take a casserole dish and lay half the eggplants down, top with half the meat sauce, half the béchamel, and repeat (eggplant, meat sauce, béchamel, eggplant meat sauce, béchamel). Sprinkle the grated cheese and bake for 50 minutes or until the moussaka is golden brown. Let it cool for 20 minutes before serving and garnish with fresh basil or parsley.
http://www.aimadeitforyou.com/moussaka/

I’ve shared this post on this week’s Fiesta Friday, hosted by Julie and Linda!

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9 Comments

  • Reply Debbie October 6, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    I just pinned this recipe. I’ve always wanted to try moussake. This looks amazing!

    • Reply Ai October 8, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      It was amazing! You’ve got to try it!!

  • Reply Petra October 9, 2016 at 1:34 am

    What a great cookbook to pick! I can almost smell the lovely moussaka and it looks so inviting, let me just grab a fork! Have a great weekend and thank you for bringing this to Fiesta Friday!

    • Reply Ai October 9, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Thank you, Petra! I’m really loving this cookbook. I’m making my second dish today so keep your eyes peeled 😉 You’re welcome anytime to come help me eat haha. Happy FF! Have a nice weekend!

  • Reply zeba October 9, 2016 at 4:01 am

    Love Moussaka and your recipe sounds delicious!

    • Reply Ai October 9, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Thank you, Zeba! 🙂

  • Reply Linda October 11, 2016 at 8:44 am

    What a delicious recipe! I love buying new cookbooks too! Looks like you have a winner there…thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday 🙂

  • Reply James October 11, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Looks delicious. Moussaka was one of the first dishes I made when I started out my blog, and I definitely need to make it again.

  • Reply Sandhya October 14, 2016 at 5:32 am

    We love moussaka and am so happy to have your recipe! The moussaka looks scrumptious!

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