This weekend all eyes will be on Greece. Whether the government gets its act together and pushes through the deep cuts needed to receive the next installment of international aid or not, there is no question that tough times lie ahead for the Greeks. Oy vey, it seem like these days we get out of one crisis just to plunge into another...
While the markets were falling apart this week and I was trying not to notice by concentrating on the blog and polishing the silver, moussaka came to mind. Well that and the fact that I have some beautiful eggplant, or as some of you like to call it, aubergines, sitting on my kitchen counter. They were really destined for the grill, but I think that instead, I will use them to make this long forgotten recipe.
Contrary to what you may think, moussaka is not just for the winter. Now is the perfect time of the year to make one while the gorgeous eggplants, or aubergines, are at their prime.
I haven't made a moussaka in years. As a matter of fact, this is the only recipe I have and it is from a long time ago; but when I looked for something more au courant, nothing came even close. Sometimes old recipes are better than new ones and with Craig Claiborne, you can never go wrong.
Don't be put out by the length of the recipe. There are really only four simple steps: First you brown the eggplant, then the meat onions etc, make a bechamel and assemble the whole dish. Simple as that. So go for it and pray that everything (the moussaka and the drama) turns out alright.
Serves 6 to 8
3 medium eggplants
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 onions, chopped
2 pounds ground lamb
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk, heated
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups ricotta
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Peel the eggplant and slice it crosswise 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides of each slice lightly with salt, arrange in 1 layer on paper towels and let drain for 30 minutes.
In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat; add as many slices as will fit in 1 layer and brown on both sides. Repeat the procedure with 4 tablespoons of the remaining oil and the remaining eggplant. Drain the eggplant as they are cooked on paper towels.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the onion to the skillet and cook until the onions are brown. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink. Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the skillet and simmer over low heat, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
In a sauce pan, over low heat, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to moderate and add the milk in a stream, whisking. Simmer for 5 minutes, add salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat. Cool slightly and stir in the eggs, nutmeg, and ricotta.
Grease and 11 by 16-inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with bread crumbs. Arrange alternating layers of eggplant and meat sauce in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Pour the egg sauce over the top and bake one hour in a preheat 350 degree oven, or until top is golden. Let cool twenty minutes before slicing.
Recipe from Craig Claiborne