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Gretchen's Moussaka

ICDOCEAN1's picture

I am finally getting around to making this and was going to ask about freezin some of it and then read to the bottom of her recipe, freezes nicely.

Thanks Gretchen:

MOUSSAKA

3 Medium eggplant, peeled and cut in 1/2" slices

olive oil

3 onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2# ground beef or lamb(better!!)

3 TBS tomato paste

1/2 C red wine

1 C bread crumbs

1 C parmesan

1/2 C parsley, chopped

salt/pepper/cinnamon to taste

TOPPING

8 TBS butter

6 TBS flours

4 eggs beaten frothy

4 C milk

2 C ricotta cheese (low fat OK)

Spray cookie sheet with Pam or just oil it and bake eggplant at 350 for 20 minutes or until done. Set aside. Brown meat and drain fat. Heat 2 TBS olive oil in pan and cook onions and garlic until golden but no brown. Add browned meat and cook 5 minutes. Combine wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, parsle, salt and pepper. Stir into meat. Simmer gently, stirring frequently until all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.

Prepare topping by melting butter, whisking in flour. Slowly add hot milk, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly and stir in beaten egg and ricotta.

Grease a lasagna pan (a foil lasagna pan works well--this makes a deep casserole). Sprinkle the bottom with bread crumbs. Arrange alternate layers of eggplant and meat mixture, sprinkling each layer with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Top with the cheese custard. Bake 1 hour or until top is puffy and golden brown. Cool 20-30 minutes before cutting. Serves 8. This will freeze very well. Cover with saran in contact with the topping and then aluminum foil. Thaw before cooking.

It may seem like the cheese topping is a lot but it really does take all of it.

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Moussaka very good (post #71562, reply #1 of 7)

I haven't made moussaka in years and decided to make Gretchen's version first as it is T&T and if I dare attempt the dish for a holiday dinner I had to know that it would work and come out as perfect as I could make it with no last minute hassles.  One change that I made was to drizzle the eggplant slices with a little EVOO and some salt an pepper before baking (what a time saver) and certainly cleaner than frying the eggplant.  I didn't know what to expect flavor wise, I guess I'm used to a "eggplant Parmesan" flavor and the moussaka is more mild in flavor.  I added a touch more than 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and wouldn't recommend much more than that, the hint of was just enough for the whole dish.  Having plain crumbs in the freezer so went with those, but I would use my seasoned version the next time. 

The huge success is that I used lamb, I trimmed and ground the meat so that I could control the amount of fat and thereby eliminating any chance of a strong lamb taste.  DH doesn't eat lamb, Ha, knowingly anyway and this time I went for the full amount instead of using 1/2 beef.  He cleaned his plate and is taking some for lunch.  I can't imagine that he didn't wonder what I was going to do with the two small leg roasts that I bought on sale just after Thanksgiving and he even made a comment at the time, "what are you going to do with that?"  If I had said Shepherd's pie or moussaka who knows what would have happened come serving time. 

So in the end the dish was highly successful and I would recommend it for any dinner party.  3 other recipes that I have from an ancient "The Art of Greek Cookery" 1961 aren't too far off from Gretchen's, broiling the seasoned eggplant is one option,  brushing the slices  with butter, another suggesting browning in oil.  Each of the three recipes varies using butter, Italian plum tomatoes or tomato paste and one version calls for zucchini and potatoes.  All use ground beef, but the lamb is much better. 

Those ladies of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church sure can cook and offer 3 versions of some recipes. I highly recommend the book if you like Greek food, a little treasure of a book that I almost forgot about.   Next is Pastichio/Patitsio and along with Cat Cora's version, the book has 3 other versions to scope out.

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Gretchen8's picture

I'm glad you like it. It is (post #71562, reply #2 of 7)

I'm glad you like it. It is really a good recipe, but I think the major difference from many is the topping having ricotta in it, not just a bechamel. It makes it SO good.

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Gretchen's moussaka (post #71562, reply #3 of 7)

You are so right and a real keeper recipe, thanks again.  Into the Gretchen's file it goes. 

DD suggested Shrimp Gumbo for Christmas Eve this year, scaling back from our usual feast of so many fishes of course and then I was thinking Greek for Christmas so your recipe is perfect and as far as I can tell, easy to make 1/2 the recipe if need be.  That depends on how many for Christmas dinner.   One of the recipes in the book suggests make ahead, but don't add the custard until just before baking time the next day. 

Boy if I had to do a big dinner for tons of folks,  your moussaka and the vegetable Parmesan that I made last year would be fantastic additions to a buffet table. 

So with Greek in mind, I am off to peek at other recipes and come up with a menu.  All suggestions welcome.

Gretchen8's picture

I have frozen it with the (post #71562, reply #4 of 7)

I have frozen it with the custard on top so I don't think that is a problem at all. Is that book's topping a "custard"  or is it just bechamel. The cheese really stablilizes it just fine.

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Moussaka (post #71562, reply #5 of 7)

Just took a look and all three are just the bechemel.  I love the cheese and great to know that I can now make it way ahead of time and freeze. 

Gretchen8's picture

Yes, bechamel will separate (post #71562, reply #6 of 7)

Yes, bechamel will separate if frozen. The eggs and cheese will do fine. I've done it.

how to cook lamb's picture

love this (post #71562, reply #7 of 7)

as lamb fan and i have tried this recipe. so delish Gretch.