Moussaka is casserole dish made with layers of potatoes, eggplant and ground beef; then topped with a cheesy Bechamel sauce.
The first time I had Moussaka was five years ago when my family and I took a Mediterranean cruise and stopped during one of our tours at a local Greek restaurant for some lunch.
We were given a few regional selections to choose from off of the menu since we were a large crowd, they weren't offering the entire menu selection.
Believe it or not, I'm a pretty picky eater and there was only one thing on the menu that I thought I would enjoy...Moussaka.
I couldn't have been happier with my selection and savored every bite of this local dish made with potatoes, eggplant and ground beef (mincemeat or lamb).
I purchased a local Greek cookbook, and have wanted to make this recipe at home for years now and just never got around to it.
Thankfully, there's a Mediterranean restaurant nearby (where our oldest daughter also works when she's home from college) that serves an incredible Moussaka so I satisfy my craving for this throughout the year.
Being that the cold weather is approaching and my family craves comforting, casserole type dishes this time of year, I decided to try and make Moussaka at home.
It's a little bit like Irish Cottage Pie, in that you combine minced meat with tomatoes and seasonings; in this case nutmeg.
How do you make Moussaka?
To make Moussaka you'll need ground beef, eggplant, potatoes, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted), nutmeg, Bechamel sauce (butter, flour, milk, egg yolks) and shredded Mozzarella cheese.
Start by browning your ground beef in a large saute pan on top of the stove over medium high heat. Once brown add chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, nutmeg and salt.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has absorbed.
While the beef is browning, cut your eggplant lengthwise into ½" thick slices. Heat a little olive oil in a large sauté pan, then cook the eggplant about 2-3 minutes per side; set aside.
Now it's time to make the Bechamel sauce.
Start by melting butter in a small saucepan; then add flour to form a roux. Add your milk, whisk and cook until the sauce has thickened.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then slowly add a bit of the warmed sauce into the eggs to temper them (to get them to the same temperature as the sauce); then add the yolks to the sauce and cook until thick.
Peel the potatoes and slice them into ½" thick slices and line the bottom of a 9"x13" casserole dish (don't overlap them). Next, add the eggplant slices on top of the potatoes, followed by the ground beef mixture; then top it off with the Bechamel sauce.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and bake in a 350°F oven for about 45 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown.
Making Moussaka takes about 30 minutes before getting it into the oven, but you can prepare it the night before; then pop it into the oven the next day if you're looking to make this during the weeknight.
Another option is to make it, then refrigerate and reheat only what you want to eat. That would be my preference because this is one of those meals that taste even better the longer it sits.
Even when I order it out, the portions are so big it's enough to feed 3-4 people so I wind up picking at it for lunch for days afterward.
This recipe for Moussaka was delicious and will feed approximately 6-8 people. My family loved it; though they did say that next time I should add more Bechamel sauce to the top, but I kind of liked it this way so it was more of the beef mixture.
If you don't think it's enough, simply double the ingredients. ~Enjoy!
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- 1 ½ pounds ground beef (or lamb)
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1- (14-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise ½-inch thick
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, sliced lengthwise ½-inch thick
For the Bechamel Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 large egg uolks
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook the ground beef in a large frying pan over medium high heat until browned; then add onions, garlic, tomatoes, salt and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.
- In a separate frying pan, heat the oil; then cook the eggplant approximately 2-3 minutes per side until it starts to soften.
For the Bechamel Sauce
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan; then whisk in the flour forming a roux. Add the milk and whisk until the sauce has thickened.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and gradually add some of the hot sauce to the eggs to temper them; then add the yolks to the sauce and mix well.
Assemble the Moussaka
- Line a 9"x13" oven safe casserole dish with the potato slices. Top with the cooked eggplant, beef mixture and Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 45 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown.
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