Calliope's Real Greek Food

cooking & stories in my Brooklyn kitchen

The Famous Greek Moussaka

 {Fried eggplant and potato dish, with ground beef & béchamel}

This flagship dish of the Greek cuisine was not included in it until the early 1920s! It is the Greeks of the Minor Asia, who came to the mainland as refugees after the Smyrna catastrophe in 1922, the ones who should take the credit for this universally acknowledged “traditional Greek food”.  Poverty in the mainland and the islands would not allow such an elaborate dish in the Greek diet.

 

Tips: Make the meat filling the day before and store it in the fridge, it will save you some preparation time.

Let the eggplants soak in salted water for about 30 minutes before you fry or bake them (salted water kills some of the bitterness)

Preparation Method for the Béchamel Sauce

1.     Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste or roux. Let the flour/butter mixture to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown

2.     Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Simmer over low heat until it thickens but does not boil; about 20mins

3.     Add a pinch of salt. It takes a while for the sauce to thicken, be patient (Béchamel is thicker than gravy but not quite as thick as pudding. It should be somewhere in between)

 

Preparation Method

1.     Pre-heat the oven to 350F

2.     Fry the potatoes lightly and place them on paper towels to absorb the oil

3.     Fry the eggplants lightly and place them on paper towels (alternatively, you can roast the potatoes and eggplants with some oil for about 20 minutes)

4.     Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until pink color disappears, about 5 minutes

5.     Add onions and garlic and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes

6.     Add wine & bay leaf & wait for the spirit to disappear (you need to move to the next step, with not so many liquids in the sauce, just meat mainly)

7.     Add the tomato sauce, salt, and pepper and allow sauce to simmer over low heat for 10 - 15 minutes.  

8.     Layer the bottom of a lasagna pan with the fried potatoes and top it with the fried eggplants

9.     Top with the meat filling and finish with the béchamel

10.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese

11.  Bake at 350F for approximately 50 minutes or until the top is golden. Let it sit for 30 minutes before serving

Ingredients

-       1 – 2 medium eggplants (depending on the pan) cut lengthwise into thick slices

-       1 – 2 medium russet potatoes cut lengthwise into thick slices

-       1 cup olive oil

-       1 pound ground beef

-       1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

-       1 clove of garlic, minced

-       1 cup dry white wine

-       1-2 bay leaves

-       1 can tomato puree or diced canned tomatoes

-       ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

-       salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

-       1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

-       1 cup all purpose flour

-       4 cups milk, warmed

-       salt & white pepper

-       nutmeg (optional)

 


Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Serves: 6 – 8