Tuesday, 8 November 2011

One-layer Moussaka

Here's a yummy classic that I've been iterating for a few years, and now I finally feel like I know how to cook it quickly, easily, without using huge amounts of oil, and getting the flavours exactly right. I think back in the day I probably started with Delia's recipe and have been modifying since. My latest take is to make it in a shallow dish, since:
  1. Everyone loves the crispy lovely bits where the cheese melts and the aubergine skin crisps and YUM... so making it shallow means everyone gets more topping!
  2. The movers broke my deep lasagne dish and I haven't bought a new one yet.
I made enough for eight people, but here's a recipe for just four, i.e. a single dish. Serve with rice or potatoes, and some steamed vegetables, a Greek salad, or just some fluffy lettuce leaves.

  • 500g lamb mince, or diced lamb if you prefer
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 of dried)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large or 3 medium aubergines (eggplants)
  • 100g sharp cheddar or parmesan
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 350 ml milk
  • two bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Finely chop the onion and fry with the lamb in an oven-proof casserole dish over a moderate heat, adding a bare smear of oil to get the meat started. After five minutes, crush in the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, cinnamon and thyme, and a little hot water if the mixture looks dry. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding water if necessary to stop it sticking. Taste and season if necessary.

Meanwhile, top the aubergines and cut them into 1cm-thick lengthwise slices. Using a silicone or pastry brush, coat lightly with olive oil and stack in a baking tray at an angle, so that each has air around it. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until tender but not falling apart.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a large bowl for whisking. Stir together the flour and oil in a pyrex jug, then add the egg yolks. Carefully add the milk, a little at a time, and stirring thoroughly between each addition. Drop in the bay leaves and microwave for four minutes, stopping every minute to stir thoroughly. Continue until thickened.

Whisk the whites (I use an electric whisk!) and combine gently with the cooled lamb mixture. To assemble the moussaka, put the cooked lamb sauce on the bottom of the shallow baking dish. Then add the aubergine slices, slotting them together and overlapping if necessary, then pour over the white sauce. Grate the cheese and whizz the bread into breadcrumbs, and sprinkle them over the top.

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