Mix it up, moussaka

8 Dec

As with most trips to the grocery store, I look for things to inspire me. This week I was looking for something that I don’t usually buy. Now, eggplant isn’t always on my list, but it does find it’s way there when I’m making eggplant parmesan or caponata, but that’s it. When I saw these purple beauties I knew they had to come home with me.

I wanted to challenge myself to make something different with the eggplant. I remembered when I was in school making moussaka. Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish that is best described as a mix between a pasta-less lasagna and a shepard’s pie. The technique is layering flavors and ingredients.

The base is the eggplant, lightly sautéed. On top of that is a rich, flavorful ragú (usually lamb) that is then topped with potatoes and a creamy cheese sauce. I wanted to use things that I had on hand so I used ground turkey for my ragú instead of lamb. On another note, ground turkey is easier to find and cheaper than ground lamb. Anyway, you can use ground beef or chicken as well. When using ground poultry, there is a certain amount of richness that gets left out of the equation. I used duck fat to brown the turkey meat to get some of that back in. I also added onions, garlic, San Marzano tomatoes, red wine, and oregano into the ragú. I let it cook for an hour, adding in tomato juice and red wine to keep the moisture level up. As the liquid reduces, the flavor intensifies.

The Cheese sauce is a simple béchamel sauce that is flavored with nutmeg and parmesan cheese. You want this sauce to be a little thicker that napé. This consistency change will create a sauce that will brown better in the oven. The potatoes can be simply sliced, like I did, or you can make mashed potatoes and spread them on top of the ragú as in a shepard’s pie. Bake the moussaka at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until the top is brown and the edges are bubbling.

Serve this hot. You can make this dish family style or individually like I did. This is a very hardy dish that is perfect for a cold winter night. There is a fair amount of time involved in making all the layers and then assembling, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Always thinking of the next meal



3 Responses to “Mix it up, moussaka”

  1. Jenn December 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    oooh! yum! eggplant is on sale at my market … and I have a couple potatoes in my pantry … just might have to try to make this too! 🙂

  2. Erin December 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm #

    Your posts always make me so hungry! I love Moussaka… however, I have not had it in almost eleven years (since I became a vegetarian). Do you think it would turn out if I substituted meatless veggie crumbles for ground meat?

    • mrsmarquiss December 8, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

      Sure! Those are great, I’ve used them to make shepard’s pie in the past and it was great. Just add a little more wine and oregano to boost the flavor

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