Saturday, September 17, 2011

Greek Moussaka Casserole

3 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick lengths
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced into ½-inch squares (about 1 cup)
2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 pounds lean ground lamb
1 cup red wine
1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1. Season the eggplants with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place into a colander for 30 minutes to lose excess moisture. Pat the eggplant dry. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the eggplant in batches, turning once until soft and just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes per side. (Do not let the eggplant slices get too mushy.) Drain on paper towels. You may add more olive oil as needed.

2. Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Cook the onion and carrots until soft and golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

3. Add the lamb to the pan. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and cinnamon stick. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the cinnamon stick.

5. Heat the butter in a saucepot over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook until golden and bubbling, about 2 to 4 minutes. Pour in the milk. Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with ground nutmeg, salt and pepper.

6. Assemble the moussaka by placing a layer of eggplant slices in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with half of lamb mixture. Add another layer of eggplant and another layer of lamb. Finish with a layer of eggplant. Top the casserole with béchamel sauce. Bake until the casserole is bubbling and the top is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes. Allow the casserole to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6 to 8
Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus 40 minutes baking

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