Monday, September 8, 2014


From the Time-Life Foods of the World, Middle Eastern Cooking. Somewhat time-consuming but totally worth it.

3 medium-sized eggplants, about 1 pound each, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup flour
1 to 2 cups olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 pounds lean ground lamb
3 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup canned tomato puree
1 teaspoon finely finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons freshly grated kefalotiri (or parmesan)

Sprinkle the eggplant slices lightly with salt, lay them side-by-side on paper towels, and weight them down with a large, heavy platter or casserole. Let them rest 20-30 minutes, then dry them thoroughly with fresh paper towels. Dip the slices in the cup of flourand shake them vigorously to remove the excess.

In a heavy 12-inch skillet, bring 1/2 cup of the olive oil almost to the smoking point over high heat. Add the eggplant a few slices at a time, and cook them, a minute or two on each side, regulating the heat so that they color quickly without burning. transfer to paper towels to drain and brown the remaining, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary.

Pour 1/2 more of the olive oil into the skillet, and heat it until a light haze forms above it. Add the onions and, stirring frequently, cook over moderate heat for 8-10 minutes , or until they are soft and lightly colored. Stir in the ground lamb and, mashing it with the back of a spoon to break up any lumps, cook until no traces of pink show. Add the fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepperand bring to a boil over high heat. Stirring frequently, cook briskly until most of the liquid in the pan evaporates and the mixture is thinck wnough to to hold its shape almost solidly in the spoon. Taste for seasoning, and turn off the heat.

Saltsa Besamel
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk and the butter in a small pan until bubbles begin to appear around the rim. Remove from the heat. In a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan, beat the eggs, the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, the flour, and salt together until smooth. Place this saucepan over moderate heat and, stirring constantly with a whisk or large spoon, slowly add the milk and melted butter mixture in a thin stream. Still stirring, cook until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens heavily. Set aside off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 325. To assemble the moussaka, spread half of the eggplant slices in overlapping rows in the bottom of a 14-by-9-by-3-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the slices evenly with 2 tablespoons of grated cheese and pour in the lamb and tomato mixture, spreading it into the corners of the dish with a rubber spatula. Arrange the rest of the eggplant on top and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese. Pour the saltsa besamel evenly over the eggplant and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, then increase the heat to 400 and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the top is golden brown. Remove the dish from the oven and let the moussaka rest at room temperature for 5 or 10 minutes before serving it.