Moussaka

Once of THE most delicious dishes out there. Recipe based off Nikolaos Tselementes' authentic Greek moussaka - enriched béchamel, lamb mince and aubergine (no potato, beef or zucchini etc). This is certainly a crowd pleaser and great for the colder months as we near the winter! Full recipe below...


INGREDIENTS

Serves 4 - 6

Béchamel:

Flour 100g

Butter 100g

Milk 800ml

Nutmeg (generous grating)

Parmesan 50g (grated)

Salt to taste

Egg yolks x 3


Mince:

Onion x 1 (finely diced)

Garlic cloves x 4 (minced)

Olive oil 2 tbsp`

Lamb mince 750g (if mincing own, use shoulder meat)

Tinned tomatoes 400g (equivalent of 1 tin)

Red wine (sweet - if not, add a pinch of sugar)

Tomato paste 2 tbsp

Cinnamon 2 tsp

Oregano 1 tsp

Salt & pepper to taste


Aubergines x 5-6

Parmesan (to top - optional)



METHOD:


1. Start by chopping the aubergines lengthways, roughly 1/2 inch thick.


2. Place the slices onto a baking tray and sprinkle over a few pinches of salt. Leave to sit whilst prepping other parts of the dish. The salt removes excess moisture and bitterness from the aubergine.


3. Next, begin preparing the mince. In a heavy bottomed pan add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Bring to a high heat and then brown the minced lamb in batches (do not overcrowd). Remove the lamb and set aside, then tip the onions into the same pan, along with the cinnamon, oregano, salt and pepper. Sautee over a medium heat for a few minutes until onions have softened and spices cooked through.


4. Turn up the heat and immediately tip in the wine (and sugar if needed). Reduce the wine on a high heat for a few minutes to burn off any alcohol. Return the browned lamb mince to the pan, along with the tinned tomatoes, garlic and and tomato paste.


5. Bring to a bubble and then turn down to a medium heat. Place a lid on top of the pan then cook for 1-1.5 hours. Here it is key to make sure that the mince is not too watery - if there is still lots of liquid, continue to reduce until thickened.


6. Whilst the mince is cooking, this is the perfect time to prepare the béchamel sauce. In a new pan, add the butter and melt over a medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and mix together to make a roux. This is the essential base of any white sauce. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, then begin to gradually mix in the milk. Tip some milk in, mix together until no lumps are visible and repeat this until you have used up all of the milk. Let the béchamel bubble for a few minutes to help cook out the flour, then add in the rest of the ingredients for the sauce. By now the sauce should have a thick custard like consistency. If it is still too runny, cook for a little longer until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.


7. By now, a significant amount of water should have been removed from the aubergine slices. Tip the water away and place the slices onto some paper towel. Pat dry and place into a bowl. Drizzle over some olive oil and toss to coat evenly. In a new pan, fry the slices of aubergine over a medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side, until a nice colour appears on both sides. Once cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. Alternatively (and a healthier way), you can simply place the aubergines onto a baking tray, brush with some olive oil and bake in a oven for 30 minutes or so, again until a nice colour appears on the slices.


8. You should now have each part ready for assembly: the béchamel sauce, mince and aubergine. Preheat an oven to 180 C / 356 F.


9. Place a layer of the aubergines at the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping so there are no gaps. Place the mince on top of the base layer of aubergine and spread out evenly. Add another layer of aubergine on top of the mince and then tip over the béchamel sauce. Spread the béchamel out evenly and then top with a thin layer of grated parmesan (optional).


10. Cook the Moussaka in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until a nice golden brown top forms. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for at least 10 minutes before eating (ideally 20). Enjoy!