Moussaka is, I assume, the correct dish for April, a rare mixture of southern sunshine and warming consolation. It’s also a suitable way to use up leftover lamb from the Easter roast. Most widely associated with Greece, it pops up in numerous paperwork from North Africa to the Balkans – sweetly spiced, wealthy and wobbly, and constantly fully delicious.
- Prep 15 min
- Salt 30 min (elective)
- Cook 1 hr 35 min
- Serves 4, generously
- 500g minced lamb (see step 1)
- 3 medium (or 2 massive) aubergines
- Fine sea salt and black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 big onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 150ml crimson wine
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, picked and chopped
- For the béchamel
- 500ml milk
- 60g butter
- 60g simple flour
- 50g kefalotyri (or pecorino)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Nutmeg, to grate
1 Lamb is not the only meat
Though I like moussaka made with lamb – I think the spices paintings better with its candy flavor – in its place of birth, the dish is frequently made with veal or beef mince, so experience loose to apply the equal weight of one of these rather, or, indeed, goat, hogget or mutton mince. Alternatively, finely chop 500g leftover roast meat, discarding any skin.
2 Season the aubergines
Cut the aubergines lengthways into roughly ½cm- thick slices, put in a colander, and salt lightly. Leave to sit for half-hour, then rinse and pat dry. (This step isn’t important, mainly if you’re in a hurry, but I think it offers the finished dish a stronger flavor than seasoning at the give up.) Meanwhile, warm the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gasoline 6.
3 Bake the aubergines
Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil on each facet (seasoning them well, too, if you skipped the salting in step 2), then set up on a baking sheet (or two, if need be). Bake for approximately 25 mins, until tender and golden, however now not brown – maintain an eye fixed on them towards the end of the cooking time – then flip off the oven for now.
4 Fry the onions and garlic
While the aubergines are roasting, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and positioned tablespoons of olive oil in a huge frying pan over medium-excessive heat. Cook the onion until tender and golden, however no longer browned, then stir within the garlic, cinnamon, and oregano, and fry for a couple of minutes greater, just until the garlic loses its uncooked scent.
5 Brown the mince
Turn up the heat barely and add the meat, stirring to interrupt up any lumps. Cook until the mince is properly browned and the combination is fairly dry, then season to flavor. If you’re using meat that’s already cooked, stir-fry it for a few minutes to heat through.
6 Add the drinks and leave to stew
Measure out 150ml water, beat a bit of it into the tomato puree to loosen it, then pour the pasta, the wine, and the rest of the water into the pan. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat properly down and leave to cook dinner lightly for 30-40 minutes, till a maximum of the liquid has evaporated, and you have a thick meat sauce. Check and regulate the seasoning once more.
7 Make the white sauce
While the meat sauce is decreasing, make a bechamel. Pour the milk into a small pan and, on a low-ish warmness, bring it to just underneath a boil. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium warmth, and stir within the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, until it begins to odor toasty, then whisk within the warm milk step by step, and prepare dinner, often stirring, until the sauce thickens.
8 Add the cheese and eggs
Grate the cheese and stir it into the white sauce, then take off the heat and go away to chill slightly. Heat the oven again as much as 200C (180C fan)/390F/fuel 6. Beat the eggs into the white sauce and season to taste with salt and nutmeg, being formidable with the latter; this dish can take it. Stir the chopped parsley into the meat sauce and season again to flavor.
9 Assemble, prepare dinner – and cool
Arrange a 3rd of the aubergines within the base of a lightly greased oven dish and top with half of the meat. Repeat those layers, completing with a layer of aubergine, then top with the bechamel. Bake for approximately forty-five mins, till properly browned, then depart to chill to just warm before serving. Trust me; the cooler serving temperature makes all the distinction.