moussaka with bechamel

Serves:
6 to 8    |   
Prep Time:
1 hour    |   
Cook Time:
45 minutes

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moussaka

I’ve been on a Greek odyssey lately and I haven’t even left the country. It started when my cookbook club came over for a night of feasting from the Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors, by the chef of the eponymous restaurant in San Francisco. This is my version of their luxurious moussaka. I also have a quicker version, but this one is worth the time to make for special occasions. It’s spectacular.

ingredients

2 large eggplants, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for eggplant and oiling dish
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 pound ground lamb
3/4 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup red wine
1 can (14 oz) San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
1-1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes

béchamel sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
3 ounces crumbled feta
1/2 cup grated Asiago or parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

directions

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Generously sprinkle eggplant slices with salt then brush with olive oil on both sides and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until soft and cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a wide pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft. Stir in oregano. Crumble in lamb and beef, sprinkle with a hefty pinch of salt and the cinnamon and stir until meat is broken up and browned. Drain off excess fat if desired. Pour in wine and let come to a boil. Stir in tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste and honey. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until thickened.

While sauce is cooking, boil potatoes in a pot of salted water until just tender enough to slide a knife tip into center, but not cooked all the way through, 15 to 20 minutes (depending on size of potato). Drain potatoes and when cool enough to handle, peel and slice about 1/4-inch thick.

Make béchamel sauce: melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly until it has a pale ivory color, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warmed milk and mix until smooth. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the cheeses and egg yolks, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in the yogurt until smooth.

To assemble, oil the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish (or other 3-qt casserole). Arrange potatoes in one layer over bottom of dish. Ladle half the meat mixture over potatoes, top with eggplant slices then remaining meat mixture. Spread béchamel sauce over top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until rich golden brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.