Thursday, October 4, 2012

Simplified Moussaka

MOUSSAKA is sort of a Greek lasagna, with eggplant instead of noodles. Sort of. It usually calls for slicing, salting, draining and frying the eggplant, then making multiple layers of the eggplant alternating with layers of sauce, before topping it with the custard. This is a simplified version. It doesn't look as fancy, but it's a lot easier! And even though it looks complicated from these directions, it really isn't.

(based on a recipe from Carb Wars, by Judy Barnes Baker, 2007)

For the meat and veggie sauce:
1 lb ground beef or lamb
2 globe or 6 Asian eggplants, peeled and diced (about 2 lbs)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped (about ½ cup)
1 T tomato paste
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1 or 2 firm fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 c diced canned tomatoes
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
¼ c beef broth or water (you shouldn’t need this with fresh tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the custard:
2 T butter
1 c heavy cream
Generous pinch of ground nutmeg
2 eggs beaten with a fork
Salt and pepper to taste

6 T grated Parmesan

To make the meat and veggie sauce:  Start browning the meat in a big skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and the eggplant and cook until the meat has browned and the onion and eggplant are soft. Drain the fat off if there’s a lot of it in the pan. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

To make the custard: Heat the butter and cream on low in a small saucepan, while stirring, until smooth.  Add the nutmeg.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Dip out a little of the hot cream mixture and mix it with the beaten eggs to temper. (If you don’t do this, you’re likely to end up with scrambled eggs when you put the eggs into the hot cream.) Stir the egg mixture back into the pan and blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the moussaka:  Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9”x13” baking dish. Spread half of the meat and veggie sauce in the baking dish and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Spread the other half of the meat and veggie sauce over that, and sprinkle it with the rest of the cheese.  Pour the custard evenly over the dish and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until brown.  Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting. 

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