March 20, 2010

Greek Moussaka

I learnt the word "moussaka" while watching Masterchef Australia last year. It was served to 2 contestants as in a "taste test". They were asked to taste the dish and tell what ingredients were used in this dish. Moussaka is liken a lasagne without the pasta sheets. Eggplant is the most important ingredient in mousska (it replaces the pasta sheets in lagsane) and the best thing is that it is in season right now.

I had M and L over for dinner to catch up with them last night. They have requested for something not Asian. In fact, L requested for Spanish cuisine but I cannot find any good Spanish main course (I made a Spanish dessert - cherry flan). I saw this moussaka recipe on Better Homes and Gardens. It looked easy enough and hence I thought I give it a try :)

1.5 to 2 med-big eggplant, sliced to 1cm thick
1 finely chopped onion
6 cloves garlic
600g beef mince (replace with crushed chickpeas for vegetarian option)
400g can diced tomatoes
couple of tsp brown sugar
a pinch of all spice
bunch of chopped oregano
150g grated tasty cheese

Bechamel sauce:
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp plain flour
400ml hot milk (microwaved to warm it)
300ml cream
4 egg yolks
120g grated parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
pinch of ground nutmeg

Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over eggplant slices in a dish. Set aside for 30 mins and rinse with water. Pat dry and pan fry them with olive oil until they are soft and golden brown.

In a larger saucepan, put in some olive oil. Add onions, garlic and lamb mince. When the meat is nice and brown, chuck in diced tomatoes, sugar, allspice and chopped oregano. Cook for about 5 mins. Remove from heat.

Whisk butter and flour in saucepan until it resembles wet sand and then whisk in hot milk until it silky smooth. Once it is thick and goopy, stir in cream (to cool it down) and season with salt and nutmeg. Fold in egg yolks and grated parmesan cheese.

To assemble, spread 1/2 cup breadcrumbs on bottom of baking dish. Line dish with 1/3 of eggplant. Top it with 1/2 amount of meat sauce, then top with 1/2 amount of grated tasty cheese. Repeat the process and finish off with eggplant on top. Pour bechemel sauce on top and bake in the oven for 45mins at 190C until golden brown on top.

I used lamb mince instead of beef, mixed spice instead of allspice, dried oregano instead of fresh oregano and low fat versions of some diary ingredients.

Overall, I am very pleased to be able to make a Greek dish :p This turned out very tasty and delicious. For those who may not like eggplant (our guests were not big fans of them), fear not because you could hardly taste the eggplant because they were so soft and they blend in with the rest of the dish.

This dish looks healthy (meat with 2 serves of veggies - tomatoes and eggplant). However I am not sure how the bechamel sauce rates since there is quite an amount of cheese, cream, butter and milk (all diary!) added. I used light cream, low fat milk and low fat grated tasty cheese but normal parmesan cheese, butter and the 4 egg yolks! You know what? I reckon it is partly the sauce that makes the dish tasty and gives it the wow factor :p

0 other thoughts:

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