|Moussaka with Purple Potatoes|
Moussaka Alba's Way
Moussaka is a baked dish made with alternate layers of spiced ground lamb, potatoes, fried eggplant covered with a thick layer of béchamel sauce that becomes golden and crusty. Moussaka was introduced when the Arabs brought the eggplant to Greece around 1200s during their stay. The Arabs have a similar dish called maghmuma. Moussaka is one of the most popular dishes of Greek and Turkish cuisine influenced by the Arab footprint that passed through.
To achieve optimal Moussaka, use fresh and good quality eggplants (No bruises, discoloration, softness). Rinse and pat dry each individual slice before cooking. Brown and season the ground meat well before layering. Flavor the béchamel sauce with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper. At the end of the assembly, sprinkle with some freshly grated Pecorino cheese.
I used small purple potatoes with their skin on, shaved them thinly so I didn't have to cook them. I drizzled a little olive oil on the potatoes, added salt and pepper and placed them at the bottom of the casserole. I sauteed the combination of ground lamb and beef in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little peperoncino. I really browned the meat until all the juices were absorbed. When I made the béchamel sauce, I flavored it with salt, pepper, nutmeg. Flavoring each step is critical to any dish. I sliced the eggplant thinly, pat it dry, placed them on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and I baked them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes at 400F. Once all of my ingredients were prepped, I assembled the moussaka with alternating layers. I sprinkled some Pecorino cheese on top and baked it for 45-60 minutes until golden on top. I had leftover marinara sauce, which I warmed up and served it on the side with the moussaka.
When the moussaka is ready, wait a few minutes before serving. It's like a lasagna, it needs to cool a few minutes before serving or you'll have a big mess when cutting the first slice.
Perhaps my lasagna was not authentic, however it was very tasty and a little healthier than using fried potatoes and eggplant in the dish. What makes a dish tasty is the care one takes at each step. Without that, it's just a good dish!!
Posted by Alba Carbonaro Johnson