Moussaka has turned into one of my favourite greek dishes ever. The first time I tried it, I have to say…I was disappointed. Granted, as I had no idea how to cook a moussaka, I’d bought it from a supermarket in my much younger days which probably didn’t help. I’d made another attempt a few years on and was equally dissatisfied – it’d filled a hole but was bland and runny.
Truth be known, it had never really appealed or been on my A list of things to either try or make myself.
It was only when I happened upon a restaurant in Rhodes a few years ago that I’d had a change of heart. I’d spotted it on the menu and figured I’d give it one more go, feeling obliged to try the local cuisine. And, boy was I blown away. It was so good that I’d asked to see the chef and, after a bit of bribing by way of Sambuca, he had given me the basics instructions as to how to cook a moussaka.
This recipe is slightly different to most of the standard moussaka recipes you’ll find on the net. It’s a great deal healthier for starters. Many people deep-fry their aubergine (eggplant) and potatoes, believing this is how to cook moussaka. However, I’m not a fan of this. I think it unnecessary. It tastes just as good without any of that.
How to cook a Moussaka
If you’ve ever made a lasagna, you won’t have any issue creating a moussaka. A moussaka works off the same principles in that it’s layers and then baked in the oven.
The first layer is potato that should be peeled and cut into 5mm slices, then parboiled in a pan of boiling salt water for approximately 5 minutes.
We only part boil the potatoes to stop them from breaking up when they’re placed in the oven dish. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and use to layer the bottom of your ovenproof dish. Tip: before you layer on the potatoes, spread a small amount of butter around the baking dish to stop your moussaka from sticking.
The next layer is aubergine, also known as eggplant. Take the aubergine and cut it into 5 mm slices, as you did with the potatoes. Place the aubergine on a baking tray and then drizzle over olive oil to cover both sides (use a food brush if you prefer). Season both sides of the aubergine well with salt and pepper, then cook for 14 minutes or until they become gold in color. Take out the tray and flip the aubergine over. Cook for a further 14 minutes or until golden. Remove the tray from the oven and then layer the aubergine on top of the potatoes that you prepared earlier.
The next layer in your moussaka is ground beef and pork. You’ll need ¾ of ground beef and a ¼ of ground pork in your mix. Take a large saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and throw in the onions. Cook the onions until they turn a golden brown colour then add in your beef and pork mix. Cook until all moisture has reduced and you are left with a dry ground mix.
Mix in 3 tablespoons of tomato puree to the beef and pork mix. Add a cinnamon stick, bay leaf and oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and passata and at least 30 minutes on a low heat. Once the ground meat is cooked, remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and then spread the lot on top of the layer of aubergine.
You’re now ready for your final layer – the bechamel sauce.
Get another saucepan on a medium heat and then add the butter. Heat until melted and add in the flour. Grab yourself a whisk and pour in the milk at regular intervals whilst stirring (don’t tip it all in at once). Whisk in the pan for around 5 minutes or until thickened. Then add in the parmesan cheese and stir for around 30 seconds. Take off the heat and allow the pan to cool down, making sure to add the pepper (no salt). Finally, take two eggs, whisk the lot and then pour over the ground meat mix that’s already in the baking tray.
Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
How to Cook A MoussakaPrint Recipe
- 500g lean beef mince
- 250g lean pork mince
- 3 medium size potatoes
- 2 ripe aubergine (eggplant)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 500ml passata sauce
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh continental parsley
- 3 free range eggs, beaten
- 100g finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2½ cups of milk
- ½ cup plain flour
- 75g butter
Start by peeling the potatoes and cut them to 5mm slices. Add to a pan of salt water and parboil for around 5 minutes or until they start to soften slightly
Once the potatoes are part cooked, drain the water completely and then layer on flat in the oven proof dish
Take the aubergines and cut them into 5mm slices. Using two tablespoons of olive oil, coat on both sides, then place on a separate baking tray. Cook both sides for 14 minutes each or until golden brown and then layer on top of the potatoes you prepared earlier
Place a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and throw in the chopped onions. Cook the onions for around 5 minutes and then add in the ground beef and pork. Mix together and cook until all moisture has been absorbed and you’re left with a dry mix. Add in the chopped garlic, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and oregano. Cook for a further 2 minutes
Add the tomato paste to the pork and beef mix and cook for a further minute before adding in the passata sauce. Simmer for 30–35 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick. Once cooked, stir in the parsley and then layer over the aubergines prepared earlier
Get another saucepan on a medium heat, add in the butter. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and then pour in the milk at regular intervals whilst stirring (don’t tip it all in at once). Whisk in the pan for around 5 minutes or until thickened.
Add parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir for around 30 seconds. Take off the heat and then add in the pepper.
Add two eggs to the sauce, whisk thoroughly and then pour on top of the ground meat mix that’s already in the baking tray.
Bake for around 45 minutes at 180°c or until the top is puffed and golden. Leave to stand for 15 minutes before serving.