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Working on a great Moussaka recipe, need help though

I love authentic moussaka and finally got around to trying to make it myself. I took six or seven recipes from here and tried to put them all together, but the result left something to be desired. Well it was better than the recipe I used in the 70s before I even knew what Moussaka was, which started with Crescent Rolls so you can imagine. I'm going to start asking people who would know better, but if anyone can critique me here I would appreciate it.

First, the eggplant. Half the recipes said to roast it rather than, or in addition to, pan frying, so I figured that would be a little healthier. Only roasted it for 20 minutes but when I went to slice it, it fell into chunks. I think I should just fry next time?

Potatoes? I always thought that was a main ingredient, but only one recipe called for it. I cut them like potato chips and deep fried and made a base of them. Some breadcrumbs underneath because certain recipes called for that somewhere in the casserole.

The meat and sauce was pretty good, I used crushed tomatoes in puree and lamb, and lots of different spices, but do you think lamb is necessary though? I always have to process it myself so it's some extra work. Didn't taste all that lamby.

The topping is what disappointed me the most, I wanted light and fluffy but it was sort of dense. I made a white sauce and then added 5 eggs that were beaten but not intensely. I also added a half cup of parmesan to that. Maybe I should have really whipped the eggs, or separated?

Also several recipes mentioned it was better served at room temp, but my husband strongly disagreed.

Well I guess this could be my New Years resolution, to make a great Moussaka by year's end!

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  1. Here's my recipe ( I use ground beef-can't find lamb where I live)

    Meat Sauce:
    2 table butter
    1 Cup chopped onion
    1 1/2 ground beef or lamb
    1 clove garlic chopped
    1/2 tea oregano
    1 tea basil
    1/2 tea cinnamon
    salt & pepper
    2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce

    2 eggplants (1lb 4 oz)
    salt
    1/2 cup butter

    cream sauce:
    2 table butter
    2 table flour
    1/2 tea salt
    2 cup milk
    2 eggs

    1/2 Cup grated parm cheese
    1/2 grated cheddar cheese
    2 table bread crumbs

    1. Melt 2 table butter in fry pan. Add onion, meat and garlic till cooked thouroughly. Remove excess grease. Add oregano,basil,cinnamon,salt & pepper and tomato sauce. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 1/2 hr.
    2. Halve eggplant and lice into 1/2 inch think slices. Brush with melted butter and broil till golden brown. turn and do other side.
    3. cream sauce-in sauce pan melt butter and stir in flour.Stir for a couple minutes-add milk slowly and stir till thickened. Salt & Pepper. In a small bowl beat eggs -add a little of cream mix to eggs to temper-then add eggs into cream sauce.
    4. To assemble-in bottom of 2 qt baking dish or 9 x 13--laywer 1/2 of the eggplant. Sprinkle with 2 tb of each cheese. Add bread crumbs to meat sauce. Spoon meat sauce over eggplant. Layer rest of the eggplant. Top with 2 table of each cheese. Pour cream sauce -top with remaining cheese.
    Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes..

    2 Replies
    1. re: dklipscomb

      Oh I did put onion and garlic in the meat, but butter is always a tasty addition. Great idea! I'm thinking of just using meatloaf mix next time myself.

      1. re: coll

        Oh thank you so much, I just saw the complete recipe. Mine was close but I think I went too crazy trying to add all kinds of extra stuff. I'm going to try again in a few weeks. This would be a great company dish, rather than the usual lasagna.

    2. I've never eaten a moussaka with a fluffy topping and I have eaten many in Greece, although there will almost certainly be regional variations.

      1. My moussaka recipe is the result of trying many different ones until it reached perfection- many years ago when I was dating my husband, who is from Greece.
        Potatoes are not a main ingredient of moussaka. Generally, most moussaka is made with eggplant. The ones with potatoes that I have had, substitute potatoes for the eggplant. Not usually mixed and I think the eggplant is far superior.
        Re how to cook the eggplant, first of all the eggplant should be sliced thin (with skin on ) from top to bottom. Then salted, drained, rinsed and dried. I use about 6 large eggplants.Then it should be fried. To cut down on oil I sometimes brush with oil and broil about half of it. I think using lamb makes a big difference. If you can't get ground lamb in the market, you can buy a boneless leg of lamb and ask them to grind it up. You can freeze what you are not using. Cinnamon and tomato are the main flavorings in the meat. The bechamel sauce should be thick enough so that some will stay on top but most will seep through the lamb and eggplant so that it holds the thing together.
        If you want I will post my recipe. It is very time consuming and labor intensive but I got the result I wanted (husband!).

        2 Replies
        1. re: emilief

          Everything you're saying rings true, especially that I only used 2 eggplants and I thought it needed a few more. I love fried eggplant in parmigiana, so I figured I should make it like that next. I like to use breadcrumbs but all the recipes seemed to call for just flour. Glad to hear about the potatoes, I won't bother with them anymore (although as homemade potato chips they were great!) I also was considering just getting a bulk pack of ground lamb, 10 lbs or whatever, just to have around for this and Shepherds Pie. I'm tired of buying the blade steaks and cutting all the meat off the bones anyway. I will use bechamel next time, that sounds so much closer to what I'm looking for. Don't know
          what it was with all those eggs!

          That would be so nice of you to post your recipe, it sounds like exactly what I am aiming for. Now that I made it once, I like to think I finally have an idea of what I'm doing, sort of! And maybe I can get my husband to like it too (he's a gyro kind of guy unfortunately).

          1. re: coll

            Here it is:
            Moussaka Melitzanes ( eggplant moussaka)
            6-7 medium large eggplants
            1 tbsp butter
            2 1/2 lbs lean ground lamb
            2 onions chopped fine
            1 cup dry red wine
            2 Tbsp tomato pste
            2 Tbsp chopped parsley
            1 tsp ground cinnamon
            salt and fresh ground pepper
            6 tbsp bread crumbs

            1 cup or more of olive oil
            1 recipe (below) of bechamel sauce

            Remove stalks from eggplants and wash the outside and dry. Slice lengthwise top to bottom in thin slices appr 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle slices with salt and let sit for 30 minutes or longer.

            Melt 2 tbsp butter in large saucepan. Add onions and saute until soft then add meat and saute until brown. Stir in the wine, tomato paste diluted in water, parsley, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes and stir until blended. Remove from heat and add 4 tbsp of breadcrumbs and stir.

            Rinse the eggplant and drain or wipe dry. Saute slices in olive oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels. To save time, have 2 or 3 frying pans going at once. You can also brush with oil and broil slices on both sides. I like to fry 1/2 and broil 1/2.

            Grease a large ovenproof pan and sprinkle with a tbsp of breadcrumbs. Divide the eggplant into three parts. Arrange one layer in the dish, spread with 1/2 the meat mixture. Cover with a layer of eggplant, then the remainder of the meat and top with a layer of eggplant.

            Prepare the sauce:

            Bechamel

            12 tbsp butter
            2 tbsp flour
            10 oz hot milk
            salt and pepper
            4 egg yolks
            2 tsp lemon juice
            salt and pepper
            2 tbsp grated kefalotyri or parmesan
            2 tbsp of butter

            Melt 2 tbsp butter in saucepan. Add flour, stir 2-3 minutes. Gradually add hot milk, stirring continuously.beat in 2 beaten egg yolks gradually. Stir in 8 tbsp butter cut in small pieces. Add lemon juice. Add 2 more beaten egg yolks, 1 tbsp grated cheese and salt and pepperf. Spread sauce on top of eggplant. Peirce the layers with a knfe so that the sauce permeates the dish and holds the moussaka together.
            Dot with the reamining butter, grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
            (yes, I lke to eat it hot too but in Greece it seems that most people make their food for the day and eat it at room temperature [before the advent of microwaves!].

        2. All of the recipes look great, but one thing I like to do is: get my bechamel at room temperature and fold in some unsweetened (duh) whipped cream with stiff peaks. If you fold it in gently and char the top, you will have a beautiful one inch thick layer of fluffiness that makes it memorable

          1 Reply
          1. re: roylima1

            That sounds what I'm used to seeing in restaurants, I will definitely be trying that next time, thanks!

          2. I think frying tastes better but roasting slices brushed with oil works. I salt the eggplant first and drain between paper towels for about half an hour. I then coat w/ flour and either fry (uses a lot of oil) or brush w/ oil and roast. I don't use potatoes but do add dollop ricotta cheese in the end, which isn't authentic but I love the addition. Actually, my recipe isn't that authentic but I like it.

            2 large eggplants
            1 c. flour
            1 c. olive oil
            1 lb. bulk sausage meat
            2 c. chopped onions
            2 lbs. ground lamb
            1 tsp. salt
            1 tsp. crumbled dried oregano
            2 cloves garlic
            1 c. tomato puree
            3/4 c. minced fresh parsley
            Salt and pepper to taste
            1 c. red wine
            12-14 spinach leaves
            1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
            4 Tbsp. butter
            1/2 c. light cream
            1/2 tsp. salt
            Nutmeg to taste
            1/2 c. ricotta cheese

            Peel and slice eggplants crosswise. Salt well and set in single layer of paper towels. Set aside to bleed for 30 minutes. Pat dry. Place flour in paper bag and shake a few slices of eggplant at a time to coat. Heat oil and large skillet and lightly saute eggplant slices. Set aside. Brown sausage meat in skillet, drain off fat, reserving 2 tbsp and set aside. Saute onions in 1 Tpsb of reserved fat, add to reserved sausage meat. Brown lamb in skillet, seasoning w/ oregano and salt. Add to reserved sausage mixture. In 1 tbsp fat, saute garlic until just starting to turn golden. Add tomato puree, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well, then add wine and reserved meat mixture. Simmer, uncovered until all liquid is absorbed. Butter 5 qt casserole. Layer eggplant on bottom. Cover w/ meat mixture. Add spinach leaves and top w/ mushrooms. Melt butter in saucepan until foamy, sprinkle w/ flour, stir in cream until smooth and thickened. Season w/ salt and nutmeg and pour over casserole. Top w/ ricotta cheese. Bake an hour at 400 degrees.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowser

              I guess I looked at too many recipes the first time, because frying the eggplant seems like the only way to go. I love the addition of spinach and mushrooms, makes it a complete meal. I just bought a 7 lb bone-in leg of lamb to make Shepherds Pie next week, and I think I'll save some meat to try Moussaka again, now that I have such better advice than the first time around. Thanks for taking the time to post this!