Last week I shared my recipe for Beef and Coriander Dumplings with Spicy Chili Oil as a part of the www.thinkbeef.ca “Rethink Beef Global Recipe Swap Campaign”. Bloggers from across the country swapped original recipes featuring beef to showcase its versatility. The recipes needed to reflect our cultural background, or a culinary adventure. A family favourite or a dish that we sampled while traveling that we just couldn’t forget. This week, I made my swap partner’s rendition of moussaka!
Barbara from My Island Bistro Kitchen explained that her recipe for moussaka was inspired by a recent trip to the Mediterranean. Her affinity for Greek cuisine and moussaka in particular stems from the discovery of this dish on a local restaurant menu in Charlottetown PEI in the early 1980s. I’ve only ever made moussaka once before and was pretty excited to do it again. A hearty dish that’s perfect for the cold winter months. Moussaka screams comfort like a big embrace from a Yiayia.
What’s great about moussaka is that the ingredients are easy to shop for – no specialty products required. Except for a few produce items, this recipe listed ingredients that were already stocked in my pantry – and probably found in yours as well! Barbara’s recipe called for pre baking the potato slices, opposed to shallow frying them in the pan as per traditional recipes. I appreciated this modification, it makes for a far less greasy dish. The recipe I’ve used in the past called for fried potatoes as well as eggplant. It was interesting to try out Barbara’s interpretation of moussaka – which doesn’t include eggplant.
This recipe said to let cool for 20-30 minutes. I would have normally left it a bit longer to let the béchamel set, but the intoxicating aroma that permeated the entire house was too much and had to dig in as soon as I could.
This campaign was fun to participate in. Exchanging recipes was a great way to explore the kitchen of a fellow blogger who’s recipe was cultural or culinarily inspired which ultimately makes our recipes uniquely Canadian!
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Mousakka Recipe
Yield: Apx. 6-8 servings
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1½ tbsp olive oil
¾ cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz canned crushed tomatoes
¼ cup tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1¼ tsp dried oregano
1¼ tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cinnamon
½ tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Roasted Potato Layer
2¼ lb russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into about ¼” thick slices
Salt and Pepper
2½ tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 2/3 cups warm milk
2 extra-large egg yolks (room temperature), slightly beaten
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup grated Gouda cheese
¾ cup fine bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Meat Sauce: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and scramble fry until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer meat to wire sieve positioned over bowl to drain off excess liquid. Set meat aside.
Return skillet to heat and add 1½ tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 30-60 seconds while stirring mixture.
Add the drained ground beef, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, beef broth, bay leaf, spices, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, or until most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
Roast Potatoes: While meat sauce is simmering, heat the oven to 425°F. Place potato slices in large bowl and drizzle very lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss potatoes to coat in oil. Place the sliced potatoes, single layer, on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 12-15 minutes, or just until potatoes are barely fork tender. Remove potatoes from oven and reduce heat to 375°F for baking Mousakka.
White Sauce: In medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Bring mixture just to the boiling point. Remove approximately ¼ cup of the hot liquid and whisk into the slightly beaten egg yolks to temper them so they don’t curdle. Whisk the eggs into saucepan mixture. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Stir in the Gouda cheese until melted. Mixture should be of spreading consistency when sufficiently thickened.
In small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together.
Grease deep 9” baking pan. Arrange half the potato slices in the bottom of the baking pan, overlapping the potatoes slightly. Sprinkle one-half the breadcrumb-Parmesan cheese mixture over the potatoes. Evenly spread one-half the meat sauce over the potatoes and breadcrumbs. Place a layer of the remaining potato slices, followed by the rest of the breadcrumbs, and then the remaining meat sauce. Evenly spread the white sauce over the entire mixture. Sprinkle with 1½ tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese and 1/8 tsp nutmeg.
Place baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil to catch any spills should casserole bubble out. Bake for about 45 minutes or until bubbly and the top lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand for 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve with a green salad and rustic bread, rolls, or biscuits.