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Beef and Eggplant Moussaka

Source: Beef for All Seasons
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Rating: 4   Reviews: 6 See Reviews
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Active Time:  50 Minutes
Total Time:  2 Hours 20 Minutes
  Serves 4 to 6
Moussaka is a popular casserole-style dish in Greece, Turkey and many other Middle Eastern countries. Typically moussaka contains ground beef or lamb, eggplant (the round, purple type), and a cheese sauce, but some versions contain just eggplant and other vegetables, or potatoes and beef. Of the many versions we tried, this is the best!
For Moussaka:
2 large eggplants, about 1 3/4 pounds total
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 1/2 pounds lean high-quality ground beef
2 tomatoes (8 ounces) diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (such as herbes de provence)
For Sauce:
2 cups milk
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
For Topping (optional):
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup prepared fine bread crumbs
TO PREPARE MOUSSAKA: Cut the eggplants crosswise into thin slices and place on a large platter. Sprinkle with salt, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the slices and drain. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and saute over medium-high heat until lightly golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the ground beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, cinnamon, herbs, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stirring occasionally, cook until all of the beef is browned, about 11 minutes longer.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in a large saute pan and add one-third of the eggplant slices in a single later. Saute over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until just tender and lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon more of the olive oil and when hot, add another one-third of the eggplant slices, repeating the cooking process; remove and drain. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the remaining eggplant slices and repeat. Set aside.

TO PREPARE SAUCE: Heat the milk in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and bring just to a boil. Turn off the heat and let sit or 30 minutes to infuse. Strain, reserving the milk. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the butter in a saucepan and when melted, add the flour, stirring constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually add the infused milk and when completely blended in, bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring. When the sauce thickens, remove from the heat and stir in the mustard and cheese. Whisk in the eggs, and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

TO ASSEMBLE: Line a large lightly oiled casserole or ovenproof baking dish with one-third of the cooked eggplant and arrange an even layer of one-third of the beef mixture on top. Cover with one-third of the sauce. Arrange another layer of each, and then a third and final layer, ending with the sauce.

TO PREPARE THE TOPPING: (optional) Heat the butter over medium heat in a saute pan and when melted, add the bread crumbs. Stir together over medium heat until thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and sprinkle evenly over the top of the moussaka. Cover the casserole (use foil if necessary, but make sure it is not touching the topping) and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the topping is a dark golden brown; take care that it does not burn. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and serve.

WINE RECOMMENDATION: A West Coast Merlot/Cabernet blend or a regional St. Emilion from France are soft enough to "marry" successfully with this dish.

HELPFUL TIPS: Salting the eggplant slices and letting them sit causes them to "sweat" and lose their bitterness; younger, less mature eggplants tend to have less natural bitterness, but it's still a good idea to salt them; Serve the moussaka with a green salad, if desired.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Harper Collins. All rights reserved.
Date Added: 01/01/2008
Part of These Recipe Collections Find Similar Recipes »
 Casserole Classics: Ground Beef
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Nutrition Facts per Serving
Yield:   Serves 4 to 6
Calories: 694
Fat. Total: 49g
Fiber: 5g
Carbohydrates, Total: 25g
Sodium: 299mg
% Cal. from Fat: 64%
Cholesterol: 179mg
Protein: 36g
Spotlight Recipe Review See all 6 reviews »

Rating: 2
by: Claire, AZ Reviewed: 08/08/2006
I've only had Moussaka once or twice before, so I may not be the best reviewer for the dish. This recipe was good, but not as good as it should have been for the amount of time (and dirty dishes) it took to prepare it. The cheese sauce was excellent, and I would use that sauce again in other dishes, but the Moussaka as a whole seemed lacking for all the effort.
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