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NEWS Moussaka

Moussaka

Serves 8

When preparing Aubergines (eggplant), sprinkling salt over the slices before cooking them draws out the vegetable's moisture. It's a process known as 'de- gorging'. Larger, older eggplants have brown seeds that contain a bitter liquid. Salting eggplants removes some of this liquid and improves their flavour. In general, it's not necessary to salt smaller eggplants since they have fewer seeds. Larger eggplants also tend to become soft and 'melty' when cooked, so salting them before cooking leads to a firmer, more leathery cooked texture. (Leathery in a good way, we think).

To salt an eggplant, slice it and generously season the slices with kosher salt. Let them sit until you can see the liquid coming to the surface, 20-30 minutes. Rinse the slices well and pat them dry. It's also a good idea to use half as much salt as the recipe calls for (unless the recipe takes into account the fact that the eggplant has been salted).

Ingredients

  • 9 Aubergines (average weight 275g each)
  • 100ml sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 50g butter, for greasing the baking dish
  • 2 tblsp rock salt
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic, finely chopped
  • 750g minced beef or lamb
  • 200ml red wine
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated Nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tblsp dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2 tblsp chopped parsley
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 egg whites, beaten to soft peak
  • 1 litre white sauce (100g butter, 100g plain flour, 800ml milk)
  • 300g grated Parmesan (50g for final topping)
  • 7 tblsp cream
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • Rectangular baking dish 36cm x 26cm (inner dimensions)
  • Chunky tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese (as a side salad to serve).

Method

Cooking Time: 60 minutes (including 30 minutes preparation). Preheat oven to 230°C.
  1. Prepare the aubergine by slicing (1cm thickness). Place in a colander and sprinkle with rock salt. Let them sit until you can see the liquid coming to the surface, 20-30 minutes. Rinse the slices well and pat them dry. Fry each slice in butter or bake for 18 minutes at 230°C.
  2. Remove from the heat source and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate saucepan, brown the beef/lamb in small batches. When completed, combine with the onions into a large casserole dish. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.
  4. Add the allspice, cinnamon, oregano, sugar, nutmeg, celery salt, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine, stock, and tomatoes. Increase heat for 5 minutes until the mixture reaches boiling point. Reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Make the white sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined. Pour in milk, stirring constantly as it thickens. Add more milk depending on desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped parsley. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan, and cream.
  6. Allow to cool. Whisk in the egg yolks and fold in the egg whites In the meantime, prepare the baking dish to assemble the Moussaka Grease the baking dish with butter. Sprinkle 1⁄2 of the bread crumbs on the base of the baking dish Cover with 1⁄2 of the mince Cover with 1⁄2 the aubergine slices Pour over 1⁄2 of the white sauce/cheese mixture Repeat. Layer breadcrumbs, mince, aubergine, and white sauce/cheese mixture Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Cover with tinfoil.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven at 180°C for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to settle for 10 minutes. Cut into squares.
  8. For best results, cook the previous day and reheat at 180°C for 30 minutes or until warmed through.
  9. Serve with a chunky tomato, cucumber and feta cheese salad.