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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Authentic Greek Mousaka


Main ingredients

- 1 kg aubergines
- 1 teacup olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 450 gr. minced beef (u could also try mixed, half beef and half pork mince)
- 1 glass red wine
- 350 gr. fresh tornatoes, 1400 gr. tomatoes, drained of some of their juice and chopped
- teaspoon ground cinnamon
- teaspoon ground allspice
- salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 25 gr. grated parmesan, in greece we use "kefalotiri"
- some chopped parsley

Bechamel Sauce
- 80 gr. butter
- 80 gr. flour
- 600 ml warm milk
- salt and pepper
- 30 gr. grated Parmesan or greek kefalotiri
- 2 egg yolks

For the topping

- some grated cheese
- 4 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

Ok, it seems like there are millions of greek mousaka receipies out there. Well, this is the most widespread one in Greece.
80% of greek households make this one. This is how my mom in Athens makes it and how my grandmother in Edipsos, a village on the Evia island used to do it.

You will also need a roasting pan, at least 25x25 cm to oven bake the Mousaka.

1. Prepare the aubergines
Top and tail the aubergines, without peeling them. Rinse them, cut them lengthways in 75-mm thick slices and immerse them in salted water, for 30 minutes. Take them out, squeeze gently, rinse, then squeeze them again. Drain them in a colander and pat dry. Fry them in hot vegetable oil until they become pale golden on both sides; you can either deep-fry them, which is easier but they absorb a lot of oil, or shallow-fry them. In either case, drain them on absorbent paper on a flat platter before serving, so that most of their oil will dribble away. (Last step is quite helpful!)

2. It's basically a bolognese sauce...
Sautee the sliced onion in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, until it looks glistening. Add the meat and sautee together, stirring, until all the lumps are broken down and the meat starts to change colour. Pour in the wine, add tomatoes, sliced finely, the spices, salt and pepper and the oregano. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time in case it sticks. Then mix in the grated cheese and parsley.

3. The tricky part! Bechamel Sauce
Melt the butter and, away from the heat, gradually add the flour and stir to amalgamate. Return to the heat and gradually add the milk and seasoning, stirring continuously. Simmer for 9-10 minutes, stirring, until it has thickened considerably. Withdraw the pan from the heat, let it stand briefly, then add the cheese and the egg yolks. Stir and stir some more, until it looks thick. Do not let the sauce boil after this.

4. Almost there.
To assemble, cover the base of the roasting dish with half of the fried aubergines, then spread half of the meat mixture evenly on top of them and cover neatly with the remaining aubergines. Spread the remaining meat and sauce evenly over the top and cover neatly with the bechamel sauce. Sprinkle the grated cheese all over the top, and the breadcrumbs. The other 20% of Greek moms may use a layer of thinly sliced round potatoes which have been fried first. Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas no.4 around 180 grades C, for 1 hour, until the bechamel gets a golden crust. Let it stand for a few minutes before serving, in order to be able to cut it more easily (really hot mousaka is a pain to cut. trust me!). Cut into square pieces and serve it.




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