Moussaka

I absolutely love moussaka. Greek cuisine has a whole lot in common with Lebanese cuisine which is why I think I’m so drawn to it. Marc and I recently went to the annual Greek festival in our town and had the most incredible gyros, moussaka and spanikopita. I was chatting with the woman who made the moussaka and she happily revealed some of her tips and tricks. I had to try it out for myself! This recipe I came up with took some time and love, but it is not hard at all.

First, I prepped the all important eggplant. It’s the heart and soul of moussaka. I left strips of the skin on for some great texture before I thinly sliced it. Then it went into my colander with a generous sprinkle of salt. I put it in my sink to let the excess moisture drip out. This was essential to keep the dish from being soggy. It also took out some of the bitterness from the eggplant.
I used buttermilk in my breading procedure for the eggplant. The acidity in it tenderized the eggplant even more for the moussaka!
After it drained, it was time to bread all of those eggplant slices. I used buttermilk in my breading procedure because the acidity in it tenderized the eggplant even more for the moussaka. It took some time and I eventually had enough breaded eggplant to fill 3 baking trays. They baked until gorgeously golden brown and crisp.
Oh my goodness, this beef mixture was so tender and flavorful! I used loads of spices and aromatics.
While the eggplant baked, I made my velvety béchamel sauce and meat filling. The béchamel is my classic recipe that I learned in school and it is simple to make. The beef mixture was so tender and flavorful! I used loads of spices and aromatics.
The moussaka all layered together!
When the eggplant, sauce and filling were all done, it was time to assemble the moussaka! I layered the eggplant, meat filling and cheese twice. Then the final layer of eggplant, béchamel and cheese finished it gloriously. It looked so good already!
This moussaka was smelling so incredible fresh out of the oven! It took all of my strength to not dive right in.
I baked it until it was bubbly and the béchamel became golden on top. Let me tell you, this moussaka was smelling so incredible fresh out of the oven! It took all of my strength to not dive right in.

Once it cooled enough, the moussaka was ready to cut and serve! Oh my goodness. It was beyond glorious. The layers all worked together so well. The tender eggplant and savory beef cut through the richness of the bechamel. It was pure harmony on a plate and so worth the effort. Enjoy, friends!

Moussaka
Moussaka

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Moussaka
Moussaka
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs 30 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Servings: 6
Author: Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen
Ingredients
FOR PREPARING THE EGGPLANT
  • 3 whole eggplants partially peeled in stripes and thinly sliced
  • salt as needed for seasoning
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
FOR THE MEAT MIXTURE
  • 1 dash olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 medium onions peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 4 whole mint leaves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup marinara sauce homemade or jarred
FOR ASSEMBLING THE MOUSSAKA
  • olive oil as needed to lightly grease the baking dish
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 recipe velvety bechamel sauce *see post from 3/28/15
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Take the sliced eggplant and transfer it all into a colander in the sink. Sprinkle salt liberally all over the eggplant, then let it sit for an hour. The salt draws out a lot of the moisture so that the moussaka doesn't get soggy. It also takes out a lot of the bitterness to make the eggplant perfect for baking.
  2. When the hour is up, pre-heat the oven to 400 and line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil. In a large shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk together. Get the breadcrumbs into another large, shallow bowl. Take the first eggplant slice and dip it into the egg mixture first, then coat it in breadcrumbs before transferring it to the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant to fill all three sheets.
  3. Bake the eggplant for 30 minutes to get it super flavorful and tender. While it bakes, prepare the bechamel sauce according to my post on 3/28. It takes about 25 minutes total. Once the bechamel sauce is cooking, it's time to make the super fragrant meat mixture for the moussaka.
  4. Take a large rondeau pan and heat some olive oil in it over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and let it get completely brown as you break it up with a spoon. Then the onion, garlic, cilantro and mint go in to get fragrant for 30 seconds. Season the mixture with the cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and coriander and mix it all well. Add the tomato paste and red wine and let them both cook off for a minute. Lastly, pour in the marinara sauce and let the whole mixture simmer and meld for 10-15 minutes. It should be done at the same time as the bechamel sauce! Take both the bechamel sauce and meat mixture off of the heat and set them aside.
  5. The eggplant should be done at this point too. Take it out of the oven and reduce the oven heat to 350. It's time to just put this baby together! Take a large lasagna pan and lightly grease the bottom with olive oil. Evenly distribute the breadcrumbs on top of the olive oil. Layer the first tray of eggplant on top of the breadcrumbs, then half of the meat mixture on top of the eggplant. Finish the layer with about 1/4 cup of the freshly grated parmesan.
  6. Repeat this with the next tray of eggplant, the remaining meat mixture and another 1/4 cup of parmesan. Finish the assembly with the last of the eggplant on top. Pour the bechamel sauce on top of the layers and spread it out evenly, then sprinkle the last of the parmesan evenly on the very top. Get the assembled moussaka into the oven for about 45 minutes.
  7. The bechamel should get golden with little brown spots when the moussaka is done. Take it out and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Then cut out the desired sized portions and serve immediately!

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