So I already have a Moussaka recipe on here, and lovely it is too. The picture isn’t great (it was AGES ago, 3 years!). I made this yesterday with the intention of replacing the old image, but then I made a few tweaks here and then – and before you know it, it warrants a new post. But I’m kind of glad. See, it’s a really good recipe. You will make people happy if you cook this for them – and I’m willing to stake my reputation on that statement. It was WOLFED down by my hubby and 2 little ones (that’s rare – that they both like something) in about 6 minutes flat, with only a wee portion left over – that would’ve gone too if I hadn’t of intervened.
I have called it easy, but maybe it should be called eas-ier instead, because it depends on what you consider easy. I have made it easier by doing a microwave bechamel (I never make a roux/saucepan/faffy white sauce nowadays – what’s the point, this is just as good!). With moussaka, it’s traditional to add eggs to a slightly cooled white sauce, which puff up to make a slightly souffléd topping.
Also, I have just used 1 aubergine rather than 2, as I do find the pre-frying off a bit tiresome, so one pan lot is quite enough. Instead of lots of aubergine, I have tried a few potatoes in there – not only does this make it more economical (as you need less meat – and less aubergines, which can be expensive) but it is so delicious too. I have had it both with and without potatoes in Greece so it’s authentic still. I also tried layering the ragu, aubergines, potatoes which works a treat too – doing this seems to imbue the vegetables with the flavours of the ragu.
This is great to make ahead, the night before, or in the morning to eat that evening. I made the whole thing in the morning bar the bechamel which I did just before it went in (I actually made the ragu in my Instant Pot pressure cooker which saved a lot of time). It’d be perfect for entertaining a group with kids in. All you need to eat with it is a salad, and if you wanted to pad it out a bit, some garlic bread.
If I had a freezer, which we will do as soon as move into our house very soon (YAY!), I would be making two of these bad boys and sticking one in there for an emergency situation. You know, like when you just *CBA* to cook!
Serves: 4/6 (depending on greediness this may well be less)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes in a pressure cooker / 1 hour in a normal casserole
Total time: 30 minutes / 1 hour 10 minutes
400g minced lamb
1 aubergine, sliced into 1cm rounds
600g waxy potatoes (Desiree are good), peeled and par-boiled for 10 minutes, then sliced into 1cm rounds
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
Small glass of red wine (about 100ml)
250g-400g passata or chopped tomatoes (you need a lesser amount if cooking in a pressure cooker, more if using a casserole pot)
Salt and pepper
For the microwave bechamel:
500ml whole milk
50g plain flour
75g cheddar cheese
A little grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
- First, make the ragu. Sweat the sliced onions in olive oil for about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic towards the end when they are nearly fully softened.
- Add the lamb. Plus the oregano and cinnamon.
- Now for the red wine. Let this cook off a little. Once this has bubbled off, tip in the passata. Bring to the boil and either pressure cook for 20 minutes. Or, if using a normal casserole pan, cook on simmer with the lid on for 1 hour. Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes to reduce any excess sauce.
- Whilst this is cooking, get the rest of the prep done. It’s key that you do these things whilst the ragu is being made to save time. Fry off your aubergine slices in a little olive oil. Season lightly. Set aside.
- Also, par-boil your potatoes. I leave them quite large but cut any big ones up so that they are all pretty much a similar size. Once they’ve had about 10 minutes, and you can skewer them but they are not yet done, drain them and let them cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice into 1cm (ish) rounds.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Finally, make your bechamel. In a microwaveable jug, add the milk, flour and butter. Set the micro to 10 minutes on full power. Cook, stopping every minute or so to whisk. Trust me, it will melt together and – as long as you regularly whisk – it will turn into a thick, gorgeous white sauce with a few minutes to remain. It normally takes about 7 minutes. Once it’s thick, add the cheese and seasoning. Let it cool as much as you can (although I didn’t wait that long), then add – quickly – 2 eggs and whisk fast so they don’t have a chance to scramble if it’s still warm.
- In a baking dish that’s about 22 x 27cm, add the layer of meat first. Then the aubergine, then the potatoes. Repeat. Top with the white sauce.
- Bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Enjoy with a salad and some garlic bread.