Moussaka is, I assume, the perfect dish for April, an unprecedented mixture of southern sunshine and warming consolation. It’s also the proper way to deplete leftover lamb from the Easter roast. Most extensively related to Greece, it pops up in various forms from North Africa to the Balkans – sweetly spiced, wealthy and wobbly, and always absolutely delicious.
Prep 15 min
Salt 30 min (optional)
Cook 1 hr 35 min
Serves four, generously
500g minced lamb (see step 1)
three medium (or 2 massive) aubergines
Fine sea salt and black pepper
four tbsp olive oil
1 big onion
four garlic cloves
1½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp tomato purée
150ml pink wine
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, picked and chopped
For the béchamel
60g simple flour
50g kefalotyri (or pecorino)
2 eggs, overwhelmed
Nutmeg, to grate
1 Lamb isn’t the simplest meat
Though I like moussaka made with lamb – I suppose the spices paintings higher with its sweet flavor – in its homeland, the dish is regularly made with veal or beef mince, so sense unfastened to use the same weight of one of those rather, or, indeed, goat, hogget or mutton mince. Alternatively, finely chop 500g leftover roast meat, discarding any pores and skin.
2 Season the aubergines
Cut the aubergines lengthways into kind of ½cm- thick slices, installed a colander and salt lightly. Leave to sit down for half-hour, then rinse and pat dry. (This step isn’t important, especially if you’re in a hurry, however, I assume it offers the finished dish a higher flavor than seasoning at the cease.) Meanwhile, warmth the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gasoline 6.
3 Bake the aubergines
Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil on both aspects (seasoning them properly, too, in case you skipped the salting in step 2), then arrange on a baking sheet (or, if want be). Bake for about 25 minutes, until soft and golden, but no longer brown – hold a watch on them toward the give up of the cooking time – then flip off the oven for now.
Four Fry the onions and garlic
While the aubergines are roasting, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and put two tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-excessive heat. Cook the onion until tender and golden, however now not browned, then stir within the garlic, cinnamon, and oregano, and fry for a couple of minutes more, simply until the garlic loses its uncooked smell.
Five Brown the mince
Turn up the warmth barely and add the meat, stirring to break up any lumps. Cook till the mince is well browned and the combination in all fairness dry, then season to flavor. If you’re the use of meat that’s already cooked, just stir-fry it for a couple of minutes to heat through.
6 Add the beverages and go away to stew
Measure out 150ml water, beat a bit of it into the tomato puree to loosen it, then pour the paste, the wine and the rest of the water into the pan. Bring to a simmer, then flip the heat proper down and leave to prepare dinner lightly for 30-forty mins, till the maximum of the liquid has evaporated and you have a thick meat sauce. Check and alter the seasoning again.
7 Make the white sauce
While the meat sauce is decreasing, make a bechamel. Pour the milk right into a small pan and, on a low-ish heat, bring to simply underneath a boil. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium warmth, and stir within the flour. Cook for a few minutes, until it starts to smell toasty, then whisk inside the warm milk step by step, and cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens.
8 Add the cheese and eggs
Grate the cheese and stir it into the white sauce, then take off the warmth and leave to chill slightly. Heat the oven again up to 200C (180C fan)/390F/fuel 6. Beat the eggs into the white sauce and season to flavor with salt and nutmeg, being ambitious with the latter; this dish can take it. Stir the chopped parsley into the meat sauce and season again to taste.
Assemble, cook dinner – and cool
Arrange a third of the aubergines in the base of a gently greased oven dish and top with 1/2 the beef. Repeat those layers, finishing with a layer of aubergine, then pinnacle with the bechamel. Bake for about forty five mins till nicely browned, then go away to cool to just warm before serving. Trust me, the cooler serving temperature makes all the distinction.