“Moussaka (the stress is on the last syllable) is a baked lamb and eggplant casserole covered with a thick layer of bechamel sauce that becomes golden and crusty. It can be made with other ingredients besides lamb and eggplant, using beef, or vegetables such as zucchini or potatoes. Moussaka is the best known of all Greek foods. Greeks believe that moussaka was introduced when the Arabs brought the eggplant, although Arabs, especially in Lebanon, think of it dish as a Greek dish. Moussaka is also found in Turkey.
No one knows what the origin of moussaka is but the following recipe from the thirteenth- century Arabic cookbook known as the Baghdad cookery book was proposed by one food historian as the ancestor of moussaka.
Maghmuma or Muqatta’a
Cut fat meat small. Slice the tail thin and chop up small. Take onions and eggplant, peel, half-boil, and also cut up small: these may, however, be peeled and cut up into the meat- pot, and not be boiled separately. Make a layer of the tail at the bottom of the pan, then put on top of it a layer of meat: drop in fine-ground seasonings, dry coriander, cumin, caraway, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. On top of the meat put a layer of eggplant and onion: repeat, until only about four or five fingers’ space remain in the pot. Sprinkle over each layer the ground seasonings as required. Mix best vinegar with a little water and a trifle of saffron, and add to the pan so as to lie to a depth of two or three fingers on top of the meat and other ingredients. Leave to settle over the fire: then remove.
It seems likely that the Greek moussaka has Arab origins and is related to the Levantine musakhkhan, with the word moussaka perhaps derived from this Arab word.”– http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/id/80/
Last night I decided to change up the menu and use up some fresh hamburger that was sitting in the fridge just begging to be used. So, I cooked up the bulk package, sifted through my Mom’s recipe folder on her desktop computer and found this unusual recipe for Greek Moussaka. After reading it I was bit put off because I’m not a fan of roasted eggplant, I prefer thinly sliced, dipped in an egg wash, dredged in seasoned cracker crumbs and deep fried. I’m southern…what’dya expect?! lol It’s the only kind of eggplant I keep in the house too, so I grabbed a couple packages of home-fried frozen eggplants, some other ingredients and came up with the most amazing dish the family has ever had! Mom liked it better than my eggplant parmesan (high praises indeed!!). Using the recipe below will make enough for two casseroles. One to bake up and the other to freeze for a future meal!
Greek Moussaka (Amanda Gayle Style)
2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cans tomato sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 bags of fried, frozen eggplant (thawed) or equivalent to 2 large eggplants
1 stick butter
4 tsp flour
2 c heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 eggs, whisked
1 c parmesan cheese (green can is preferred)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In two disposable aluminum casserole pans line the bottoms with 1 bag of thawed eggplant slices (1/2 bag per pan). Set aside.
In large pan brown ground beef, add onions and garlic. Cook till onions are transparent. Drain any fat, if desired. Pour in tomato sauce, add oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle mixture into both pans equally. Top meat mixture with remaining bag of eggplant slices (1/2 bag per pan). Wrap one pan with foil and store in the freezer.
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter completely, whisk in flour to make a thick rue. Pour in heavy cream, adding salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until thickened and bubbly; crack eggs into smaller bowl and whisk. Take some of the thickened sauce and add it slowly into the eggs as you whisk to help temper the eggs. Add the tempered eggs to the thick sauce in the pan and whisk briskly, adding in parmesan cheese at the end.
Remove from heat and pour bechamel sauce over the remaining moussaka casserole. Bake in oven for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
How to plate moussaka and what to serve with it::
Unaware of how to plate moussaka or what to serve with it, I asked my Mom what sounded good. Mashed Potatoes. Gotta love us American’s sometimes hehe It was actually good with the mashed potatoes. You don’t have to serve this with potatoes, after doing a little research this morning I found that in Greece moussaka is served with a salad on the side. Keep it as simple as you like, my nephew however is wanting pasta served with it next time. Me, I think it would be great by itself 🙂 Sincerely hope you all enjoy!
If anyone is interested in how I prepare the eggplant ahead of time, please leave a comment below and I will share it in another post 🙂
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