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Monday, March 5, 2012

Recipe for Moussaka-Secret Recipe Club

Moussaka-something I love ordering in restaurants but have failed miserably the few times I've tried to make it. Not this time!  Thanks to Evelyne at Cheap Ethnic Eatz, I now have a great recipe.  Evelyne's blog was my March Secret Recipe Club assignment.  It is a nice experience each month to really spend some dedicated time on a fellow bloggers site.  You can read more and see all of this months recipes on the Secret Recipe Club site.

Evelyne has a nice mixture of ethnic recipes on her site so I'd encourage you to go over and check it out.  It was hard to pick just one recipe but I'm really happy I chose her moussaka.  The only real changes I made were using bison instead of lamb or beef (wanted to use lamb but couldn't find any the day I was cooking) and I used a fair bit more cinnamon than called for, only because I love it so much!

Yield: 8 servings
Time: 2 hours

  • 2 large eggplants
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground bison, lean
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1/2 cup good red wine (I used a pinot noir)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3/4 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated aged Parmesan
  • Cooking spray

For the bechamel sauce:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

  • Slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices; lay on paper towels and sprinkle with salt; allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a few TBSP of oil over med-high heat.
  • Wipe salt off and dry eggplant slices then fry until browned and softening; do in batches adding more oil as needed. Drain on paper towels after each batch.
  • Hold cooked eggplant for assembly of casserole and meanwhile heat remaining oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions and cook until translucent.
  • Add ground bison and cook until no longer pink.
  • Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  • Add wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add parsley.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle half the breadcrumbs over the bottom of dish.
  • Layer half the eggplant, then half the meat, then half the Parmesan.
  • Repeat layering, breadcrumbs, eggplant, meat, Parmesan.
  • Make sauce by melting butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  • Pour in milk, whisking continuously until very thick.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Slowly whisk in eggs, cottage cheese and nutmeg.
  • Pour sauce over casserole, smooth top if needed.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until browned.
  • Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Why was this recipe a keeper?  I think it was a combination of having the eggplant sliced to the right thickness, cooking until browned and softening and then the wonderful bechamel with cottage cheese in it.  The sauce was rich without being too overwhelming.  I think this would be amazing made with ground lamb (and hope I can find some next time!).

This keeps and reheats very nicely.  Thanks Evelyne for sharing this recipe!
Printable recipe