Holidays in Greece and…Moussaka
Ok, this post is special because it is written while being in Greece where I spent my holidays for this year. In addition to that talks about one of the most well-known Greek foods around the world, the famous….(drums)… moussaka!
Writing an article about moussaka was in my mind for a long time but always postponed. There were a lot of things that I had to learn before. Basically, how to make mousaka…
Even if there are a lot of recipes out there, I have to say it doesn’t look, and as far as I asked its not the easiest food either. However, after the first day in Greece for my holidays this year it I remembered again why everyone really loves this dish…
Every time when I return to Greece, my mother asks me what I want her to cook for me to eat on the first day. Usually my favorite choice is stuffed vegetables or in greek, “gemista”. This time it was different, I asked from my mother to cook the famous Greek mousaka so i can have the recipe from her and hopefully, one day I will manage to make something close to that…
That’s the ultimate prize ladies and gentleman! When you master moussaka, (and the cheesepie, and the spinach pie, and the gemista, and the mayiritsa, and making a greek lamb, and the fasolada…and some others) then you have mastered the Greek kitchen…So, yes i haven’t managed to cook it here in London but i am hoping in the future. Its the first time i post a recipe before cooking it …but ok its a special food also. My cooking powers are not yet fully developed ….
Well, anyway, here is the recipe straight from my mother…old school…
Some notes, she finds it difficult to put down exact quantities as she has used to do everything by experience . Despite that the quantities here should be more than enough for 4 people. As she always tells me, small changes on the recipe don’t really matter…eventually you will get there.
INGREDIENTS FOR MOUSSAKA RECIPE
- 700 gr potatoes
- 700 gr courgettes
- 700 gr Aubergines
- 700 gr minced meat
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 glass of red wine (but if you like yellow we won’t get angry)
- 1/2 glass of water
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- Chopped Parsley
- Salt and Pepper
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BECHAMEL CREAM
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 410ml of milk. (1 can of milk)
- 820ml water (My mother just fills two times with water the empty box of milk… 🙂 )
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 300gr flour
- 2 beaten eggs
- 5 tablespoons of grated cheese
- grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper
HOW TO COOK MOUSSAKA
- We shall begin by preparing the aubergines. Remove the stalks from them and cut them into slices, 1 cm thick. Season with salt and let them on the side.
- Drizzling the aubergines with some olive oil and bake them for 20 minutes. Do exactly the same with potatoes and the courgettes.
- Prepare the meat sauce for the moussaka. Heat a large pan to medium -high heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the chopped onions and sauté, until softened and slightly colored. Stir in the garlic, tomato puree and the mince breaking it up with a wooden spoon and sauté. Pour in the red wine and wait to evaporate.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, vegetable cubes, chopped parsley and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated.
- Now it gets tricky! Time to prepare the béchamel sauce. Use a large pan to melt some butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste. Keep adding warmed milk in a steady stream while in the same time you keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy.
- Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning an omelette!
- Now its time to build the moussaka!
- You will have to get a large baking dish and butter the bottom and sides of the pan before you start adding the layers of the vegetables. First the potatoes, then the aubergines, and on top of them the courgettes.
- Pour in the meat sauce and even out. Add a second layer of eggplants, topping with the béchamel sauce.
- Finally, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake the musaka in preheated oven at 180-200C for about 60 minutes, until crust turns light golden brown.
Make sure you wait until the moussaka gets cold a bit as it will be difficult to eat otherwise.!