A Greek classic and a nice taste of holiday memories
This delicious lamb moussaka is a great dish to add to your repertoire.
SERVES: 4 – 6 people
PREP TIME: 20 mins
COOKING TIME: 40 mins
IDEAL FOR: crowd-pleaser, barbecue
Delicious lamb moussaka
I made this moussaka and it surprised me, to be honest.
Because I hate aubergines.
There, I said it.
I love the look of these mad deep purple veggies.
And I’ll admire a well-painted aubergine hanging on a wall.
But, let’s face it, their appeal ends there, doesn’t it?
Well, I thought so and then I finally decided to make a moussaka.
What is a moussaka
It’s actually a great combo of spiced minced meat and soft aubergines with the incredible creamy richness of béchamel sauce.
(Btw, béchamel sauce helps make this lasagne I made, epic).
That’s the basics of a traditional moussaka all layered in an oven casserole dish
However, like most great dishes there are many variations.
And it’s a perfect dish to use up some veggies.
Some other versions use potatoes, courgettes or a combination of vegetables.
And of course, meatless (vegetarian) moussaka is really popular.
Béchamel sauce is made with flour, butter and milk.
It may seem all a bit French.
And not so Greek to have béchamel sauce in this dish.
And you’d be right.
As it was a Greek chef, Nikolas Tselementes, who trained in France, added béchamel sauce.
And so, in the 1900’s this dish evolved into this delicious creamier moussaka.
What a good decision.
But it wasn’t our Greek chef who ‘invented’ moussaka.
The Greek moussaka we all love has Arab origins.
It could be because Arabs introduced aubergine and then the moussaka followed.
But today, moussaka is also a favourite dish in the Balkan nations, the Middle East and in Turkey.
Tips on making moussaka
Add yoghurt to the béchamel for lightness and tang.
OK, as I said, I’m not a huge fan of aubergine in general.
There is always a lot of faffing i.e. salting, patting, rinsing, patting dry again, frying, patting (again).
I like a shortcut.
So, If you’re up for it.
I’d skip salting and rinsing etc.
And just slice thinly, then add them to an oven tray with a little oil.
And bake for 5 – 10 mins.
You just want them soft and maybe a little colour
Par boiling the potatoes for 5 – 10 mins is a great idea.
They don’t need to be cooked all the way through so using a knife to check.
It speeds up the cooking process once you pop it in the oven.
- Lightly oil the bottom of a large deep oven tray.
- Cover the bottom with a layer of potato slices – you don’t need to cover the entire bottom.
- Next, add a layer of roasted eggplant slices.
- Next comes a layer of lamb and tomato sauce.
- Repeat another layer.
- And finally, on top, a thick layer of béchamel and grated cheddar cheese Into the oven it goes until gorgeous golden-brown.
Delicious lamb moussake
- 750 g lamb mince
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp dried mint
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 200 ml red wine
- 400 g tinned tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 aubergines, cut into 5mm slices
- 1 tbsp fine salt
- 100 ml olive oil
- 500 g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- sea salt and pepper for seasoning
For the béchamel sauce
- 50 g butter
- 50 g plain flour
- 400 ml milk
- 25 g Parmesan, finely grated
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
- In a large frying pan, add the lamb, onion, garlic, oregano, mint, bay and cinnamon and cook over medium heat for 10 mins, stirring to break up the meat.
- Stir in the flour and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the wine, tomatoes and tomato purée and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 mins, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened. Season again if needed and set aside.
- Place the slices of aubergine in a colander and sprinkle with the fine salt and leave for 10 mins.After 10 mins rinse under cold water and pat dry.Lay on a baking tray and bake in the oven on 200C for 10 mins or until they have softened and may have a little char. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Par boil the potatoes for 5 mins, then drain in a colander under running water until cold.Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for a few seconds, then gradually stir in the milk. Add half the Parmesan and the grated nutmeg. Simmer the sauce gently for 4–5 mins, stirring regularly. Season with salt and pepper.Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool. When cooled, stir in the egg.
Build your moussaka
- Now, here's when you can decide which way you layer – you can go potato first, then aubergine, then 1/3 of the lamb sauce (and repeat). But grease the bottom of a large tray with a little oil/butter first.OrSpoon 1/3 of the lamb sauce, the potatoes, then the aubergines – you don't need complete layers, just to arrange them roughly on top. Repeat.Finish either way with the aubergines and pour over the white sauce, making sure it covers everything in a thick, even layer. Sprinkle Parmesan. Bake for 35–45 minutes, or until deep golden brown and bubbling.