Here is the original and traditional recipe for moussaka and not any kind of moussaka type recipe, the way I make it back home. This is one of the most popular dishes in the Greek kitchen and it’s delicious. It will take you some time to make it but it’s worth it. Usually what we do back home is to start preparing it the previous night.
You will need:
• 700 gr. mince meat (lamb or beef)
• 700 gr. aubergines (long ones)
• 500 gr. potatoes (optional, in some parts of Greece they use potatoes as well)
• 4 onions, peeled and shredded (do not put them in the blender)
• 4 red tomatoes, peeled and shredded
• 2 tablespoons olive oil (no more than that because when you put moussaka in the oven, the aubergines will release their excess oil)
• ½ teaspoon red powder pepper
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 3 cloves
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon (powder)
• 2 cloves of garlic chopped in small pieces
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
• 425 ml. bechamel sauce
• salt to your taste
• 1 small glass of white wine
For the Bechamel sauce you will need: (I usually make the bechamel without counting the ingredients)
• 250 gr. butter
• 250 gr. flour
• 650 ml warm milk
• salt and pepper (to your taste)
• 30 gr. grated Parmesan or any other medium-hard cheese (in Greece we use a hard cheese named kefalotiri but if you cannot find it Parmesan or any other medium hard cheese will do)
• 3 eggs
• 1 large pinch grated nutmeg
• breadcrumbs (or grated rusks)
• 200 gm any medium-hard cheese, grated
Top and tail the aubergines, cut them into slices medium sized, but do not peel them. Put them into a large bowl with salted water and leave them for about 30-40 min. Put them in a colander and leave to drain for another 30 minutes. Take them out and squeeze them gently, then pat them dry. Fry them in hot vegetable oil until they become golden brown on both sides; be careful as it is very easy to burn them. Do not deep fry them because they absorb a lot of oil. Drain them on absorbent kitchen paper. (At this stage you can cut in round medium slices the potatoes and fry them until golden brown, drain them on absorbent kitchen paper)
Put in a large pan 2 tablespoons olive oil and fry the onions until golden. Add the mince meat and stir until the mince meat starts to change color, fry for 5 more minutes. Pour in the wine, add the tomatoes, the spices, the oregano, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook for 1 hour in low heating until it absorbs all its fluids and the mince meat becomes tender. When it’s ready add the grated cheese and the parsley and start preparing the Bechamel sauce.
Put the butter in a deep pan and melt it. Remove from the fire and gradually add the flour. Stir continuously and put it back on the heat. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper, nutmeg and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened considerably. (You need to be very careful when adding the flour into the melted butter as sometimes it tends to create small balls). If your sauce becomes thick and hard and you have no more milk left add some warm water. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes. Then add the eggs, stir very well and finally add the grated cheese.
In a deep baking oven plate put on the base (you can start with the potatoes if you will use them) the fried aubergines. Then spread half of the mince meat, another layer of abergines, the remaining mince meat on top and finally cover with the Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle the grated cheese all over the top and the breadcrumbs. Bake in a pre-heated oven 180 grades or in a gas oven no.4 – 350 degrees. Leave for 1 hour or until it is golden on top with a crust. When you remove it from the oven, leave it for about 30 minutes to stand and get a bit colder. That will make it easier to cut. Enjoy it!