Every summer St. Constatine and Hellen Greek Orthodox Church in Newport News has an AWESOME Greek Festival. I have fond memories of sneaking Izzy (the family dog) in the back of the tent so I could chow down on some awesomely good eats! Gyros, slovaki, spanikopita, baklava and those little honey donuts that I don't remember the name of. But what about those Greek cravings during non-festival times? I have the recipe for you. I make the most FANTASTIC Mossakka. I pronounce it (moose-ahhh-kaaaa) but I could be wrong.
If you aren't familiar with Mossakka, it's kind of like a combination of eggplant parmesan and lasagna, but of course with Greek flavors. This particular recipe is actually quite time consuming but tastes better than any Mossaka I've ever had.
from the Dean & Deluca Cookbook with comments by Amanda
serves 8 2/3 of a recipe is perfect for 3 people, but you might as well make the whole thing because the leftovers are so good
3 pounds eggplant
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon course salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin Olive oil I used italian EVOO, no big deal
3 cups minced yellow onions
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 cup white wine
14- ounce can tomatoes in puree I used diced and it worked fine
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups milk heated to almost boiling
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 1/4 cup freshly made bread crumbs
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano You can use regular parmesan, but luckily I had the good stuff on hand
1. Slice eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds and place on sheet pans. Using 1 tablespoon of coarse salt, sprinkle salt on each side of eggplant. Set aside to "sweat" for 30 minutes. Sweating and (later) frying the eggplant takes extra time but it is essential to getting the eggplant to have that meaty texture.
2. In a large saucepan (non-stick works best here) heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over moderate heat, and add onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes,
3. Increase heat to high, and add the ground lamb. Break up lamb with wooden spoon as it cooks. Cook until well browned, about 10 minutes. Removed as much fat from the pan as possible.
4. Add white wine and cook for 3 minutes scraping bottom of pan to loosen brown bits. Reduce eat to low and add tomatoes, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well, breaking up tomatoes with wooden spoon. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, add chopped parsley, mix well, and turn off heat.
5. Heat a large skillet over moderately high heat and very lightly coat the bottom with olive oil. When oil is hot, dry eggplant slices well and saute in batches until well browned about 4 minutes for side. (If it is necessary to add more oil to the skillet, add sparingly, as eggplant absorbs oil easily. Do not crowd the skillet.) Set aside cooked eggplant.
6. In a medium saucepan (yep, you need to dirty more dishes, woo!) melt 1/2 cup of butter over moderate heat. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Cook roux gently, whisking constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, without letting color change. Add hot milk slowly, whisking constantly, and cook over low heat, whisking frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the sauce has the consistency of very thick cream. Season with 2 teaspoons coarse salt and white pepper.
7. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle 1.3 cup of the bread crumbs on the bottom of an 11 inch by 9 inch by 1 1/2 inch pan/ Next, layer half the eggplant slices over the bread crumbs. Spread lamb mixture evenly over the eggplant. Cover with 3 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and 1/4 cup of the bread crubs. Add the remaining eggplant slices, then top with the bechamel sauce. Sprinl;e with remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Dot with remaining butter.
8. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Before serving, brown moussaka under the boiler for 3-4 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.