I don’t honestly even like moussaka much. By my wife loves it (and aubergines more generally), so a while back (pre-lockdown) she ordered it in a supposed Greek restaurant, only to find that what arrived resembled a shepherd’s pie: very little aubergine all mixed in with the meat sauce, and with a layer of mashed potato on top in place of the white sauce. Ugh.
Anyway, being the exemplary husband that I am, I cooked a moussaka for her, more according to her preferences. This is the recipe I landed on (having read two or three that were in the ballpark but not quite right).
- Slice three aubergines transversely into slices about a centimeter thick. Lay them in baking trays and bake them in an over at 200 degrees C for half an hour or so, turning after fifteen minutes.
- Finely chop one large onion and three cloves of garlic, and fry them in olive oil.
- Add 500g minced lamb, one teaspoon dried oregano, two bay leaves and one teaspoon powdered cinnamon. Stir until the meat is brown.
- Mix in one tablespoon of plain flour. When it’s all absorbed, add a glass of red wine and a tin of tomatoes, finely chopped.
- Pour another glass of red wine, and drink it as you continue.
- Leave the meat sauce simmering to reduce as you make the white sauce topping: start by melting 50 g butter.
- Add plain flour — enough that the butter absorbs it all and becomes a thick paste.
- Slowly add milk, continuing to cook, until the sauce is the texture of thick cream.
- Add 50 g of grated cheddar and mix in.
- Add one teaspoon of powdered nutmeg and mix in.
- Finally, break one egg into the mixture and immediately stir it vigorously into the sauce so it doesn’t cook in place.
- Now you’re ready to assemble the moussaka:
- Place a layer of aubergines in the bottom of your over-proof dish.
- Top it with a layer of meat sauce.
- Keep alternating layers of aubergine and meat sauce until they’re exhausted.
- Cover it all with the white sauce, spread thickly and evenly.
- Sprinkle the top with another 25 g of grated cheddar.
- Bake at 200 degrees C for about half an hour. Keep an eye on it, so you can yank it out if it’s starting to burn.
That’s it. Fiona loves it, and even I have to admit it’s not bad.