Moussaka is *the* Greek Dish that will impress your friends and will also feed them well! :-) Traditionally the Moussaka is made with lamb and fried eggplants, covered in bechamel and Parmesan and baked in large casseroles.
This time we’ll make it with beef and baked eggplants in order to preserve its legendary taste but cut some calories out of it. It can also be baked in small, individually sized casseroles.
See below the step-by-step Moussaka recipe plus some useful hints and examples at the end, in the recipe notes!
...with juicy minced beef cooked in tomato sauce, sweet baked eggplants and covered with delicious creamy béchamel!
| ...with juicy minced beef cooked in tomato sauce, sweet baked eggplants and covered with delicious creamy béchamel! |
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Moussaka Recipe Instructions
Preparing the Eggplants
Remove the stalks from the eggplants then cut them in 1cm thick slices
Season with salt and leave them 30 minutes in a colander (the salt will also draw the water from the cells)
Rinse the eggplants slices, then squeeze them with your hands and dry them with a towel (paper works too)
Sprinkle some olive oil on the eggplant slices (use an oil spray if you like)
Preheat the oven at 200 Celsius degrees and bake the oil sprayed eggplant slices in a casserole or a pan for 20 minutes
Preparing the Meat Layer
Preheat a large steel pan to medium heat and add the olive oil
Quickly add the chopped onion and sauté until light colored
Add the chopped garlic and the tomato puree. Stir with a wooden spoon and wait for them to sauté properly
Add the red wine and wait to evaporate
Stir in the tinned tomatoes
Add the sugar, the cinnamon, the bay leaf and a pinch of fresh ground pepper. (we'll leave the salt for the end, as it can become over-salted as the juices evaporates)
Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until almost all juices evaporates
Add salt in small amounts and stir the meat with the wooden spoon. Taste and add as much as you consider. Remember: you can always add more salt, but you can never take it back ;-). Also please be carefully not to get burnt when tasting the hot mixtures!
Preparing the Béchamel Sauce
Preheat a large pan to low-medium heat and melt the butter
Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste
While keep whisking add the warmed milk in a steady stream
Keep whisking and slowly boil over low-medium heat until the sauce becomes a little thicker
Remove the pan fem the heat source and let the sauce cool for 5-6 minutes
While quickly whisking add the egg yolks into the béchamel sauce
Finally add the salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Finishing the Moussaka
Pre-heat your oven at 200 Celsius degrees
Butter the bottom and the sides of a large baking casserole
Put half the eggplant slices in an even layer at the bottom of the casserole
Add the meat layer over the eggplants and even with a spoon or a palette knife
Add the rest of the baked eggplant slices on top of the meat layer
Pour the béchamel sauce and smooth it with a spoon or a palette knife
Add the the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and put the Moussaka in the pre-heated oven
Bake it for 60 minutes or until the crust becomes golden brown
Take the Moussaka carefully out of the oven and let it cool down for another 30 minutes. This will stabilize its shape and the juices will melt together to form the great Mossaka taste we all crave :-)
Moussaka Recipe Tips & Tricks
If you cook the Moussaka for family reunion or friends meeting is easyer to cook the eggplants and the meat layer in advance and assemble & bake the Moussaka when you need it warm and fresh. Just keep the pre-cooked parts in the fridge and take them out ~1 hour before baking them, them assemble and put in the oven by the time you serve appetizers - it will be perfect when its time will come.
You can also assemble and cook it in many individually sized, smaller casseroles, as in the image below. The taste is nevertheless awesome!
Well, if you can't or don't want to eat meat you have to know that there are lots of veggie Moussaka recipes out there; one of the best is Jamie's Veggie Moussaka recipe, available here.
Last but not least, if you're "afraid" of the Béchamel sauce just make sure you use *hot milk* in the step 3 at the Bechamel section above. Another fool-proof Béchamel recipe is here.
Good luck and have a great meal with this Moussaka recipe - and don't forget to come back and let me know how it worked for you here, in the comments!