Dimitris’ Moussaka

With this run of dismal wet weather in Sydney, our idyllic blue sky days on the island of Paros in Greece only a couple of months ago feel like a bit of a dream. While we were there we had some great food, some of it prepared by a local cook Dimitris at our villa. A few weeks ago I tried his baked eggplant recipe, which my husband loved. This time I tried his version of moussaka – there must be endless versions, every yiayia must pass down her own to her family, and it is a labour of love. If you have a mandolin (one of my kitchen essentials), you’ll make light work of the slicing. I used a 7mm slice for the eggplant and a 5mm slice for the potatoes and zucchini. If you have nice ripe Summer tomatoes, you can use fresh instead of canned. You could also use Pecorino or Parmeggiano instead of gruyere. My baking dish was approximately 20cm x 34cm and about 6cm deep.  Dimitris if you’re reading this, I hope I did an ok job!

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Ingredients
2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced
4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthways
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
Olive oil for brushing and frying
100g of Gruyere, grated
50g of Gruyere, extra (for topping)
1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs

Meat sauce
1 large onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1kg beef mince
½ cup white wine
1 can peeled tomatoes, pureed
2 bay leaves
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of raw sugar
Salt and pepper for seasoning

For the béchamel
100g butter
3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1 litre milk
100g Gruyere, grated
Salt for seasoning
Pinch of nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten

Making it

1. For the meat, sauce, put the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, and saute until softened. Add the mince and cook until browned, add the wine and cook down. Add the tomato, sugar, bay leaves, nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. It should not be too wet as you don’t want your moussaka to be runny

2. Fry the sliced potatoes in olive oil, season and set aside; fry the zucchini slices in olive oil and set aside

3. Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Brush the eggplant with olive oil, season, and bake until softened, 20-30 minutes

4. Meanwhile make the béchamel. Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and whisk, and cook for a few minutes. Add the milk, whisking constantly; the mixture will thicken and begin to bubble. Season, add the nutmeg, remove from heat and whisk in the cheese. Finally whisk in the egg.

Assembly
Place a layer of potato on the bottom of your baking dish, covering as best possible. Follow with a layer of eggplant, the half the grated cheese. Then add the meat, make sure it is a nice smooth layer. Follow with a layer of zucchini, the rest of the cheese, another layer of eggplant, then finally top with the béchamel. Sprinkle the extra cheese on top and the breadcrumbs, bake in a 180 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

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