Traditionally, Greek moussaka is a baked dish of layered eggplant, lamb or beef, tomatoes, and potatoes. A traditional moussaka is made with allspice, but not all restaurant use allspice. I will always order this dish, when we go to a new Greek restaurant, because this dish tells you if it is real greek food or not. No allspice, and you properly won't have traditional greek food at this place.
The first time I had a traditional Greek moussaka, was at a small Greek restaurant in Kongens Lyngby in Denmark. It's not the most likely place to find a good Greek restaurant. It's in the middle of nowhere just across from a grocery store and in a roundabout in a residential area. But nevertheless this is a good restaurant, with peasant-style Greek food for a reasonable price. The moussaka from this place is to die for. I tried to recreate it, and after a lot of trial and error, I think I nailed it.
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 pound (450 g) potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ pound lean ground beef
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- salt & pepper to taste
- 25 g butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ (3½ dl) cups milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- mozzarella cheese
Cut the top and bottom of the eggplants and cut them into slices about ⅕ inch thick. Put the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkle salt between the layers, and let them drain for about 30 minutes. When the eggplant slices are done, pad them dry with a paper towel.
Heat ⅓ of the olive oil in a sauté pan over low heat, and fry the eggplants gently until tender. Remove from the pan and drain them of excess water and oil on a paper towel.
Fry the potato slices in a little oil in the sauté pan until they are slightly golden. Pad the excess oil of the potatoes with some kitchen towel.
Add a little more oil to the sauté pan and sauté the onions until transparent and soft. Add the ground beff and brown it, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic, allspice, a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add caned tomatoes and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or while you make the mornay sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the flour and a sprinkle of salt, stirring constantly, until all the flour is incorporated with the butter. You don't want it to get a golden. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and shiny, 3 to 4 minutes. Add more milk if the sauce is to thick. Whisk in the cheese and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 400℉ (200℃).
In a deep ovenproof dish layer the eggplant, potatoes and meat like you would a lasagne. Pour the mornay sauce on top.
Bake moussaka for about 45 minutes until the surface is golden and bubbly. Let the moussaka rest for a few minutes before serving, letting the moussaka time to set.
*Mornay sauce is a béchamel sauce with cheese.