What Is Moussaka?
Moussaka (moo-sah-KAH) is a Greek dish that typically features layers of eggplant and potato slices with a meat sauce made with either ground lamb or ground beef, but it can also be made with other vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms. Traditionally, moussaka is topped with a creamy layer of rich béchamel sauce before melding into a savory masterpiece in the oven. The hearty dish, which lands somewhere between a casserole, a shepherd’s pie, and lasagna, is beloved across Greece, Turkey, and Egypt.
Greek Moussaka Recipe
Prep Time15 min
Total Time2 hr
Cook Time1 hr 45 min
- 2 large eggplants, sliced into rounds
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3–4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 pound ground meat (lamb or beef)
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- ½ cup vegetable or beef broth
- Black pepper
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2–3 russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to the broil setting.
- Arrange eggplant slices on a baking sheet and season with salt. Set aside, and allow to sweat for 20 minutes.
- Next, you’ll need to make the béchamel sauce. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, warm the butter until melted. Gradually add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cook the mixture for 2–3 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to avoid unwanted burning. In a separate saucepot, heat the milk until it is just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture, ½ cup at a time, constantly whisking. Cook 12 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn heat off. Slowly stir in 1 egg yolk at a time. Season with salt and a ½ teaspoon of nutmeg.
- After finishing the béchamel sauce, drain off any liquid from the eggplant then drizzle with olive oil and place under the broiler until it takes on a golden-brown crust on both sides. Remove and set aside. Lower the heat to 375°F.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic in 1–2 tablespoons of olive oil until they begin to soften and turn brown at the edges. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine, continuing to cook a minute or two more until the tomato paste starts to caramelize. Add the ground meat and cook until evenly browned, stirring occasionally. Pour off any excess fat, then add nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, oregano, broth, and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until slightly thickened. Add the wine, and cook for a minute or two more. Taste for seasoning, and set aside.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat, and briefly cook the potato slices until softened, but not falling apart. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
- In a lightly-oiled baking dish or shallow baking pan, arrange a layer of eggplant, followed by the meat sauce and the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with an even layer of breadcrumbs before pouring the béchamel sauce evenly over the top. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through until the surface is golden brown and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
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