Planet Food Greece: Aglaia’s Moussaka

Planet Food Greece: Aglaia's Moussaka

Moussaka Topped with Yoghurt

Moussaka with Eggplants, Potatoes & Peppers Topped with Yoghurt & Olive Oil Béchamel

Ingredients (Serves 6)

  • 2 Large eggplants (about 1½ pounds) sliced lengthwise to ¼ inch slices
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1lb. potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch slices
  • 3 Large green bell peppers, seeded, quartered lengthwise and cut to about 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. lean ground lamb or beef
  • 1½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • ½ cup Zante currents (optional)
  • 1 lb. red ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 2 1/2 cups imported tinned chopped tomatoes • with their juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 pinches freshly ground nutmeg

Yoghurt and olive oil béchamel:

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1 Cup full- fat plain yoghurt
  • 1 Cup grated aged cheddar or Gruyere cheese
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

1. Salt the eggplant slices and place them in a colander. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat about 1 inch of olive oil in a deep heavy skillet and fry the potato slices briefly, without letting them cook through. Remove with a slotted spoon and layer them at the bottom of six individual glass or ceramic oven proof dishes, at least 2 1/2 inches deep (or a rectangular 9 x 12 inch dish).

2. In the same frying oil sauté the peppers, stirring often, until they start to colour, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

3. Keep only 1/3 cup of the frying oil in the pan, pour the rest in a bowl and reserve.

4. Sautée the ground lamb in the olive oil, stirring often for about 10 minutes.

5. Add the onions and continue to sauté, stirring, for another 8 minutes, or until onions are translucent.

6. Add the Aleppo or red pepper flakes, the red wine, the currents, if using, and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken.

7. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg to taste, and remove from the heat.

8. Wipe the eggplant slices with paper towels and line on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with the reserved oil, and grill under the broiler, turning once, until golden on both sides.

9. Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange the eggplant slices over the potatoes on each of the baking dishes. It doesn’t matter if they overlap. Add the sautéed peppers over the eggplants and top with the lamb and tomato sauce.

10. To make the topping, whisk together the olive oil and flour, over moderate heat until frothy, about 1 minute.

11. Remove from the heat, whisk a bit longer and add the cold milk and yogurt. Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, and don’t worry if the mixture looks lumpy. It will become smooth as it cooks and thickens. When it starts to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, salt and pepper.

12. Pour about 1/2 cup sauce over each baking dish, and bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbly. If you like to further brown the top, place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Serve hot or warm