Make this ultimate moussaka and make everyone at your table very, very happy!
As promised I have brought you the ultimate recipe for Moussaka. The first time I tasted it I swooned with pleasure. This dish literally melts in your mouth letting all the tangy flavors thrill your taste buds. It is best to make it in summer when the vegetables are in season. You will notice that potatoes are omitted and zucchinis have been added instead. The zucchinis bring a sweeter and more ethereal taste where the potatoes tend to weigh the flavors down. The tomatoes we used for the sauce were hand picked from the garden and were literally bursting on their stems. If in Paros you must make sure to visit the Swiss Home Hotel and ask Anna to make it for you.
Moussaka is a special dish. It is for bringing people together. The added nutmeg is for sweetness. It is a happy dish, a joyful dish. It is best accompanied with a simple green salad that will not compete with the strong flavors of the main course. Enjoy it with a glass of red wine, or better yet, and this is my choice, a tall chilled glass of cold beer.
ANNA’S FAMOUS MOUSSAKA
· ½ kgs (about one pound) eggplants
· ½ kgs of zucchini
· A little sunflower oil for the frying pan
FOR THE GROUND BEEF MIXTURE
- 1.200 grams (2 pounds & 10 ounces) of ground beef
- 2 onions
- 400 grams (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes. Fresh is best but canned is fine.
- 2 tblsp of tomato paste
- 1 glass of red wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- A pinch of sugar
· A handful of spearmint chopped. If you can’t find it fresh then dried will do, just add a little more.
- Two different kinds of cheese. One should be sharp and the other milder and softer. Regato and Greek Graviera cheese are perfect.
FOR THE BECHAMEL
- 1 liter (4 cups) of milk
- 1 ½ cups of flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of butter/ unsalted is better
- 1 cup of grated cheese
- freshly grated nutmeg
Fry the eggplants and the zucchinis separately in a little sunflower oil. Sunflower is a little lighter than olive oil for frying but if you want to use olive oil (it is better for your heart) then go right ahead. Make sure you have cleaned and dried your vegetables well before frying. Also when cleaning the eggplants make sure you cut most of the peel so that it looks striped. If you fry it with the peel it will bitter to the taste. Fry your vegetables until they are a nice rosy brown. Take them out of the pan and place them separately in two different colanders to allow the excess oil to drip.
Anna’s secret: Leave the fried eggplants and zucchini overnight. This allows the flavors to mature.
For the beef mixture
Put some olive oil in a deep pan. Add chopped onions and ground beef and saute for about 10 minutes. Add wine and allow to simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and the spearmint at the very end. Let simmer for half of an hour.
Oil a deep casserole dish with a little olive oil and spread your fried eggplants. When finished sprinkle the top with some of the grated cheeses (both kinds) to make it tastier. Next add half of the beef mixture, sprinkle a little more cheese and continue to spread a layer of the zucchini. Do the exact same thing as you did with the eggplant. On top of the zucchini layer add the rest of you beef mixture, sprinkle it with cheese.
PREPARE YOUR BECHAMEL SAUCE
Place your butter in a large sauce pan. Once melted add the flour and work with a metal whisk until the flour and butter have become a thick paste. Add milk (which is at room temperature) slowly while stirring constantly. Once all ingredients have become incorporated and look like a nice creamy mixture remove your saucepan from the stove. Add eggs and cheese and stir well. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and spread over eggplant, beef and zucchini in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with a little more cheese and bake at 180 degrees Celsius or 356 degrees Fahrenheit for about thirty minutes or until your moussaka has a nice golden brown color.
By the way – let me know how it turned out!