How to make traditional Greek moussaka

traditional Greek recipe for moussaka

This single dish is certainly very calorific but sometimes a rich dish like moussaka can’t be resisted.

Moussaka (pronounced ‘moo-sack-ha’ with an emphasis on the ‘moo’) is a Greek dish in which potatoes, lamb and eggplant are layered upon one another and topped with a classic bechemal sauce.

We have chosen to bake the eggplant in the oven rather than fry them. We find that it improves the overall experience of this dish. It is also healthier and quite frankly, easier.

What makes this dish so special are the spices. Moussaka is simply a meat pie without them. We really hope that you give this dish a go and know that when you do, you will revisit this recipe over and over again.

Moussaka is a dish done in stages. For this recipe I have separated the stages to make it easier to follow. The way I do it is to start cooking the meat while the layer of potatoes are cooking and to cook the bechemal sauce while the eggplant are cooking. This is a great use of time and the whole dish comes together more efficiently.

traditional Greek recipe for moussaka

Moussaka – serves 4 – 6 – 30 x 25 cm deep baking dish

For the vegetables

  • 2 large potatoes thinly sliced into discs
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced into discs
  • Fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 200C/390F.
  2. Oil the baking dish on the bottom and sides.
  3. In a mixing bowl, toss the sliced potatoes and onions in some olive oil with a little fresh thyme and some salt and pepper. Place them in the baking dish, spreading them in a layer over the bottom.
  4. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browning.
  5. While the potatoes are cooking, in a mixing bowl, toss the eggplant in some olive oil with a little fresh thyme and some salt and pepper. When the potatoes are cooked, add the eggplant slices in a layer over the potatoes and place them in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browning.
  6. Once all of the vegetables are cooked, leave them in the baking dish and set them aside.

For the meat

  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground clove
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 500 g ground lamb (you could also use beef, chicken or pork)
  • 500 g tinned tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  1. In a large frying pan, add some olive oil over a medium to high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until caramelized – up to 10 minutes. When this is ready, add the cinnamon, clove and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  2. Now add the ground meat and stir it in. Once it is cooked, add the tomatoes.
  3. Season to taste and set aside.

Bechamel

  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g tipo 00 or all-purpose flour
  • 750 ml whole milk
  • 100 g grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the topping
  • 3 egg yolks
  1. In a large saucepan, add the butter and flour over a medium to low heat. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add the milk in quarters and incorporate each time before adding more. Keep whisking but not too vigorously.
  3. When all of the milk is gone, keep cooking the sauce until it starts to bubble – the whole process can take up to 10 minutes.
  4. Now remove it from the heat. Add the 100 g of Parmesan cheese and the 3 egg yolks and whisk it all in. The sauce should be thick and creamy.

Bringinging your moussaka together

  1. Take 1/3 of the bechamel sauce and add it to the meat. The reason for this is to ensure that when you cut into your moussaka, it won’t fall apart.
  2. Spread this meat mixture over the top of your vegetables.
  3. Now spread the rest of the bechamel sauce over the top of the meat and sprinkle with a little freshly grated nutmeg.
  4. Top this with more grated Parmesan and place the moussaka into the oven, uncovered, for 25 – 30 minutes or until it is golden brown on top.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for up to 20 minutes before slicing. This will allow the moussaka to set and it will be easier to slice.
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