Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Since I didn't know how I'd be feeling after my oral surgery, I decided to make a casserole ahead of time, and make it something soft and easy to eat.  When ground lamb was on sale at the market, I instantly thought of this.

Moussaka is not exactly difficult to make, it just has a lot of parts and ingredients.  Once you can get past that, it simply requires time coordination.  Rose Dosti did a good job of breaking it down in her Mideast & Mediterranean Cuisines book, except she used beef for the meat instead of lamb.  An acceptable substitution, but I'd rather go for the good stuff.  As long as we're talking substitutions, I did not use her recommended six egg yolks.  Half a cup of fake egg has about the same thickening power.

One thing I could not get around was the number of pots and pans required.  I did cut out one by making a roux and adding cool milk instead of her recommended heated milk.  Any assembly-line related project is going to take a while to wash.

Eww, that is all oil
I ended up using about a cup of oil for frying the eggplant.  That's after using tongs to wring out as much as possible.  I drained off a third of a cup from the cooking casserole because it bubbled up in the corners.  Ick.  Also, every time I heated up leftovers, there was a small pool of at least a tablespoon of oil left on the plate.  The next time I try to make this, I'm going to brush the slices lightly with oil and bake them at 400º for 45 minutes.  I'm not recommending that now because I haven't tried it.  On the plus side, you don't need to grease the pan, and it cleans up very easily.

I don't know how big the "large" eggplants were when Rose made her recipe, but mine came up short in the suggested 9"x13" pan.  I even got out a ruler to make sure my slices were about 1/2" thick.  Either get three, or the largest two in the pile.  They shrink up a bit once fried.

Meat Sauce
2 Tb olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 lb ground lamb
*1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sugar
*3 Tb dried parsley or 1/2 C fresh & chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tb tomato paste

Cream Sauce
*2-1/2 C milk
6 Tb butter
1/2 C flour
6 egg yolks or 1/2 C egg substitute
*pinch of nutmeg
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
salt and white pepper to taste

2 large eggplants, unpeeled
oil for frying
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Slice eggplants crosswise in 1/2" slices and sprinkle lightly with salt.  While that is sitting and leaching out the water and bitterness, prepare the two sauces.

2.  For meat sauce, heat olive oil in a saucepan or medium skillet.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Add lamb, cinnamon, sugar, parsley, salt, and pepper and cook until meat is browned and crumbly.  Drain off fat.  Stir in tomato paste and cook until everything melds, a few more minutes.  Set aside.

3.  For cream sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add flour and stir together to make a roux.  Gradually add milk about half a cup at a time and cook each addition until thickened and lumps disappear.  Keep stirring, or the bottom will scorch.  Beat yolks in a small bowl.  Add about half a cup of hot milk mixture to eggs and beat until incorporated to temper the eggs.  Add back to saucepan and stir.  Stir in nutmeg, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and keep stirring until thickened.  Set aside.

4.  Pat eggplant slices dry with paper towels and start heating 1/2" of oil in a skillet to 365º.  Fry several slices at a time until golden brown on both sides.  When done, set on paper towels to drain, add more oil as necessary, and go at it again.  Warning, you may get splattered by hot oil both as the slices go into the pan and when you flip them.

5.  Preheat oven to 350º and get out a 9" x 13" baking pan.  Arrange 1/3 of fried eggplant on bottom of dish.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.  Pour half of the Meat Sauce over the slices.  Place another layer of eggplant on top, sprinkle with more cheese, and top with remaining Meat Sauce.  Top that with remaining eggplant and spread the Cream Sauce over the whole thing, making sure to cover the edges and corners.  Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and bubbly.  Serve hot.
Serves 8 to 12 if you have side dishes, 6 without

Difficulty rating :-0

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