Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Moussaka (Eggplant Lasagna)

This is a dish of layered eggplants and meat topped with white sauce and baked. Moussaka means "casserole". Origin is Greek.

For Filling

3 large eggplants
1 cup oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For cream sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
3 beaten eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
dash white pepper
dash nutmeg

Wash eggplants. Slice eggplants (with skins) into 1/2-inch rounds or cut into 1/4 inch lengthwise. Sprinkle with a little salt and let stand 20 minutes to remove any bitter taste. Rinse in cold water; pat dry. In a frying pan, heat oil, fry eggplants briefly about 1 or 2 minutes or brown slices of eggplant on both sides. Set aside and drain on paper towels.

In skillet saute onions in 1/3 cup oil until tender. Add ground meat and saute around 5 - 10 minutes. Drain off any excess fat. Return to skillet. Add tomato paste, water, parsley, salt, pepper. Simmer until liquid is nearly absorbed. Take off heat, add 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 beaten eggs, and 1/4 cup cheese.

For cream/custard sauce: Bring milk almost to a boil. In another saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour with wire wisk stirring constantly. Add warm milk slowly to butter-flour mixture, stirring vigorously. Continue stirring and cooking. When mixture is thickened and smooth, remove from heat. Cool slightly. Slowly add a little of the cream mixture to beaten eggs, then pour back into cream sauce and stir well. Add white pepper, nutmeg and cheese.

To Assemble:

Grease 9" x 13" baking dish or pan. Sprinkle bottom lightly with bread crumbs. Cover with a layer of eggplant slices. Spoon on all of meat mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Arrange remaining eggplant over meat mixture. Pour cream sauce on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake custard uncovered until custard is set about 1 hour.Bake 350 degrees F. If custard oozes out, cook longer another half hour. Remove - cool slightly before cutting into squares.

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