Μουσακά / Mousaka

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3-4 eggplants, about 4 lbs. total
1 lb. potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (or lamb)
2 large onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
Cavendars Greek Seasoning (to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 cup grated Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese

Béchamel Sauce:
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup flour
4 cups milk, warmed
8 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of ground nutmeg (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in to 1/2 inch slices. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover them with an inverted plate that is weighted down by a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture can be drawn out. They will need to sit for at least 15-20 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Saute them in butter until they are partially tender and golden. They should not get too soft, just cooked enough so that they no longer crunch. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease lightly.

Rinse the eggplant slices and dry with paper towels. Brush slices on both sides with olive oil and place on baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

When eggplant is finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

 

Make the Meat Filling:

In a large sauté pan, saute the onion until translucent. Add the the ground beef (or lamb) and cook until the pink color disappears.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add wine to pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, Cavendars and sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for approximately 30 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. It should be a drier, chunkier, tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Béchamel Sauce:

Melt butter over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.

Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.

Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.

Remove from heat, whisk milk mixture into beaten eggs very slowly. Add pinch of nutmeg. Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the Moussaka:

Lightly grease a large deep baking pan (lasagna pan). Leaving a 1/4 inch space around the edges of the pan, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Spread half of meat sauce on the potatoes and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese.

Top with a layer of eggplant slices.

Add remaining meat sauce on top of eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.

Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

You can make this dish ahead up until the béchamel sauce and refrigerate. Make the béchamel sauce right before you intend to bake it.

Παστίτσιο / Pastitsio

Pasta:
1 pound dry ziti pasta or elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 dash ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 stick butter

Meat Sauce:
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon Cavendars Greek Seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Bechamel Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Melt 1/2 stick butter. Add salt to pan and cook until scorched. Add pasta, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper and toss well; allow to cool. Add eggs and toss again; set aside.

To make meat sauce: Gently fry onion and garlic in olive oil in a skillet until onion is soft. Increase heat and add ground beef, Oregano and Cavendars, stir well. Cook until meat begins to brown. Add tomato paste, wine, broth, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

To make bechamel sauce: Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour and cook gently for 2 minutes. Pour in milk all at once and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil gently for 1 minute. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and cool slightly before stirring in beaten eggs. Transfer 1/2 cup of this sauce to the meat sauce.
To assemble pastitsio: Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spoon a very thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom. Add half of the prepared pasta and spread evenly over the meat. Top with remaining a meat sauce. Top that with remaining pasta. Pour on cream sauce and spread to completely cover pasta. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake in a preheated oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.