Moussaka. Not a word that exactly rolls off your tongue easily. But, oh boy is this moussaka delicious–I mean really, really delicious.
We had dinner with friends on Saturday, Michael and Tara, who cooked some spectacular Turkish food, including a moussaka with potatoes layered between the meat rather than eggplant.
It was super tasty and paired so well with the Napa Cabs that were opened I couldn’t resist making my own version on Sunday. This is the result. Try it—unless you grew up eating Moussaka your mother made from a recipe passed down from her Greek grandmother…
Anything cooked in a casserole dish is worthy of a Sunday dinner or a crowd, and this Moussaka is no exception. The rich combination of flavorful lamb, creamy potatoes and slightly tangy sauce however is not your ordinary casserole and the breadcrumbs on top take it to another dimension. No crowd? No worry. This dish tastes better the next day, so whether you have leftovers or need a make-ahead dish, this Moussaka is perfect for those occasions.
What to drink: We were lucky to enjoy a bottle of Sequoia Grove Cabernet Franc with this dish. It was like a little smorgasbord of robust and hearty flavors on a Sunday night.
Serves 4 to 6
4 cups milk
3 medium (about 1 1/2 pounds total) potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup canned ground or crushed tomatoes
1/2 chicken stock or red wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground Aleppo or cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup high-quality bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pour the milk into a large saucepan.
Peel the potatoes. Use a mandolin or vegetable peeler to cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Add the potatoes to the pot of milk as you cut them.
When all of the potatoes are sliced, push down into the milk and bring the milk to a boil on low heat. Remove from the heat and drain over a bowl to reserve the milk. Rinse out the pan.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the lamb, onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and increase the heat a little to medium-high. Cook until nearly dry, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the oregano, parsley, Aleppo pepper and half of the salt and half of the pepper. Set aside.
Melt the butter in the saucepan from the potatoes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved and remaining milk. Cook over medium-low heat until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the goat cheese and remove from the heat. Stir in the other half of the salt and pepper.
Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of a casserole dish (about 13X9X2-inch). Arrange one-third of the potatoes over the oil, starting in the center and overlapping the potatoes just slightly in a circle until the entire bottom of the baking sheet is covered with a single layer. Spread one-third of the meat mixture over the potatoes. Spoon one-third of the béchamel over the meat. Repeat the layers twice.
Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole and bake until the potatoes are tender, 60-70 minutes. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to set. Serve warm.