Eggplant beef and cheese casserole question
I am trying to enhance a recipe I just tried. Here is the recipe and below is the question that I have. BTW I liked this very much. It's not low fat but is is low carb.
The recipe is to cook ground beef with sauteed mushrooms and onions. Season with Italian or Indian spices. (we used Italian spices) and drain off the mix. Then in a baking dish layer eggplant then layer with the beef onion mushroom mix and then layer with mozzarella. Keep layering. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
If I wanted to add a layer of sliced potato would I have to cook or blanche the potato first? My concern is that I dont want to bake this dish too long because the eggplant may get too soggy or wet. I assume I would use brown baking potato.
Also if anyone has any other enhancements to this dish or ideas how to make it better such as different seasonings please chime in.
I rather like the layers already mentioned in the original recipe. Why would you want to add potatoes in another layer? ( what are brown baking potatoes? Idahos?) I think the potatoes would absorb what little sauce, or moisture there is in the dish, since you're draining off . If anything, I would do a preliminary sautee of the eggplant... then layer as called for. Perhaps a sprinkling of seasoned bread crumbs over top before baking.
But me being me, I would want a bit of a marinara sauce in a couple of the layers.
Yes follow LJS's advice and parboil---do not over boil. 5 minutes should be fine. Another suggestion is to use a quick cooking variety of potato, not one that takes a long time. Sorry, I don't know all the potato names so I can't suggest which one, but the types I use for quick cooking have either pale or red peelings, not the kind with the dark orangish peel cuz that takes a long time and could come out underdone even after 30 minutes.
This does indeed sound like the dish "musaqaa" or moussaka (it's an Arabic word, maybe got to the Greeks thru the Turks or something).
Another tip to reduce the fat but won't affect the taste (i make this frequently, it is a family favorite) is to thinly slice the eggplant, drain the bitters by sprinkling w/salt and leave on paper towel layers for about 20 minutes. That should get enough bitters out. Then don't wash off the salt, it will stick to the paper towels anyway. Then you put all the eggplant slices in a big bowl and toss them in olive oil. You can control the amount of oil this way cuz sauteed ones absorb way too much oil. Just a little oil will do, they don't have to be well coated. Then put them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes on a foil covered baking tray. While they cook, prepare your other ingredients. This tip very much reduces the oilyness of the finished casserole and also cuts fat. After 20 minutes, layer the eggplant with the rest of your ingredients as usual.
I make this the traditional Arabic way and top it with a bechamel sauce. I usually sautee minced beef of lamb with onions, garlic, a spoon of tomato paste, one chopped tomato, a pinch of red chili flakes, a cup of chopped parsley, and a pinch of Indian garam masala (real recipe would be nutmeg and cinnamon which my garam masala has, plus a few extra things). I layer with eggplant, sometimes courgettes, sometimes potatoes, a minced meat, and then top with bechamel (to which I also add a tiny pinch of garam masala) and then bake at 350 till a crust forms.