Every year around the time of my birthday (August), my mom makes moussaka. I've never made it myself. Too much work. But it's probably one of my all-time favorite foods. It's not really that difficult. It's just time-consuming. We have it in August because the eggplant is plentiful and the tomatoes are at their peak (In Minnesota, anyway. In South Carolina they are pretty much done by my birthday). There are no tomatoes in moussaka, but when you eat it, you pretty much need to alternates bites of moussaka with bites of freshly-sliced tomatoes.
This is a putzy dish. And hot. There's lots of cooking in a hot kitchen during the hottest time of the year. But I guess when you are making it for your daughter because it's her birthday and it's her favorite food, you do it. Because you are a mom.
1 1/2 lb ground beef
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon ketchup, diluted with 1 cup water
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 egg whites (save yolks for béchamel sauce)
Brown the hamburger in a large skillet. Drain and rinse the hamburger with warm water. Return to skillet and add butter and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add wine and diluted ketchup, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the breadcrumbs and the parmesan. Allow the mixture to cool completely and then stir in the egg whites.
Peel and slice eggplants the long way. Keep the slices fairly uniform in thickness, approximately 1/2 inch thick. Soak the eggplant slices in salted water for 10-15 minutes (this step can be skipped if you are using eggplants that are not as bitter –see cook’s notes at bottom of this recipe).
Drain the eggplant slices and pat them dry with paper towels. Brush them with olive oil, or spray them with cooking spray. Lay the slices in a single layer on cookie sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray, or on silicone cooking mats.
Place the eggplant slices under the broiler. Do Not Walk Away! Watch them as they turn golden brown under the broiler. Pull them out and turn them over. Brown the other side. Remove and hold at room temperature.
3 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
3 cups milk, scalded
2 egg yolks (from the hamburger sauce recipe)
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until smooth. Gradually add the milk. Cook until fairly thick. Add the dash of nutmeg (take care that the nutmeg does not overpower the sauce). Cool to room temperature. Add egg yolks, one at a time.
Assembling the Moussaka
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Moussaka is essentially put together like lasagna. The eggplant slices take the place of the lasagna noodles, and the béchamel sauce is used instead of a tomato sauce.
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Coat the bottom with 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs.
Begin building the moussaka by placing 1/2 of the eggplant slices, overlapping if necessary, to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the parmesan. Cover with 1/2 of the hamburger mixture. Spread 1/2 of the béchamel sauce on top. Layer the remaining eggplant on top, cover with the remaining hamburger mixture and spread on the remaining béchamel sauce. Finish by sprinkling the rest of the parmesan cheese on top.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until heated through (165 degrees) and golden brown on top. Serve with tomato slices
For The Lancaster News