August 19, 2022



why it really works

  • Including egg yolks to the bechamel helps thicken the sauce and contributes to a creamy texture.
  • Permitting the selection of floor beef and lamb, or a mix of the 2, within the meat sauce means house cooks can have it the way in which they prefer it.
  • Frying potato and eggplant slices in vegetable oil offers greens a silky easy texture when cooked.

Each time I eat moussaka, I crave its wealthy, hearty layers of eggplant, meat sauce, and bechamel for weeks. So I jumped on the probability to develop a recipe. After many hours of testing, I lastly had a dish I used to be happy with: layers of fried potatoes, silky eggplant, and a wealthy tomato-based meat sauce, all smothered in gravy. creamy béchamel.

Critical Consuming / Amanda Suarez


This moussaka carefully mirrors the Greek model, which was created within the Nineteen Twenties by Greek chef and cookbook writer, Nikolas Tselementes. Previous to Tselementes, moussaka often consisted of eggplant layers topped with a tomato meat sauce; it was not the moussaka we all know immediately. Tselementes added bechamel sauce and his model is now synonymous with moussaka in america. That mentioned, different variations of moussaka exist in lots of nations, together with Albania, Turkey, and Egypt.

To verify I used to be heading in the right direction when growing my recipe, I spoke with Rona Econamou, a prepare dinner who makes Greek meals pop-ups in New York, and Elsa Stamatopoulou, who’s initially from Greece and infrequently makes moussaka at house for her household. Every girl instructed me at size in regards to the dish, patiently answered all my questions and instructed me put together its parts. I realized that since moussaka is a labor-intensive dish, it’s principally served on particular events or in the summertime when tomatoes and eggplant are in season. I used to be shocked to be taught that whereas their variations shared the identical primary parts – eggplant, meat sauce, bechamel – they’d markedly totally different opinions on whether or not or to not have potatoes, whether or not the meat ought to be lamb or beef, what spices ought to be added. with meat sauce, and prepare dinner eggplant. With their perception in hand, I examined model after model of the moussaka, making modifications alongside the way in which, till I discovered my good model.

bechamel sauce

A fast seek for “moussaka” reveals many recipes with their very own model of the béchamel sauce. Apart from the usual substances of butter, flour, and milk, many cooks incorporate eggs, egg yolks, cheese, or yogurt into the sauce. For the moussaka, you need a thick bechamel, which sits excessive on high and would not seep into the decrease layers. I discovered {that a} béchamel made with 3 tablespoons of flour per cup of milk might produce a considerable layer on high, even when it was barely bland and one-dimensional. To taste it, I add grated kefalotyri cheese (which I heard about from Rona and Elsa), a salty arduous cheese from Greece with a pungent taste just like Pecorino Romano. To provide it a creamier consistency, like pastry cream, I enriched the béchamel with egg yolks. When baked, it is wealthy, gooey, and so good my toddler begged for additional servings of the bechamel alone.

Critical Consuming / Amanda Suarez


The meat sauce

In keeping with Rona and Elsa, the meat sauce might be made with floor beef or lamb, however finally it is actually as much as the prepare dinner. I’ve examined with all beef, all lamb, and a mix of the 2. The model made with equal quantities of beef and lamb yielded a flavorful meat sauce that may stand as much as the additional spices and tomatoes. Within the recipe under, I allow you to select the meat in an effort to style the moussaka as you see match.

Critical Consuming / Amanda Suarez


As soon as the meat is browned, I add aromatics within the type of garlic and onion, adopted by tomato paste and a dry purple wine for richness and depth. For the tomatoes, in-season ripe tomatoes are what’s historically used, however as the standard of tomatoes varies relying on availability and time of yr, I take advantage of complete canned, peeled tomatoes, which add physique, shine and acidity. Ending the sauce with a cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves and dried oregano deepens the flavour and provides complexity.

The greens

I like fried eggplant; it is smooth, candy and, sure, a bit of greasy. In gentle of this truth, I’ve not examined variations of this recipe utilizing different strategies for cooking eggplant, however I’ve carried out two assessments on frying eggplant: salt the eggplant, microwave the slices, then squeeze them to remove excess moisture earlier than frying, and fry plain eggplant slices straight. As soon as cooked within the moussaka, I did not discover any distinction between the 2. So my recipe requires frying the eggplants in oil till golden brown (be certain to high off the oil between batches because the eggplant will soak up it), letting them drain on paper towel lined trays and season with salt.

Critical Consuming / Amanda Suarez


After caring for the eggplants, I turned my consideration to the potatoes. Rona and Elsa had opposing views on the potato situation. “I’ve by no means seen moussaka with out potatoes,” says Rona. Elsa, however, dislikes potatoes in her moussaka and factors out that potatoes “low cost my dish”. With their sizzling dishes in hand, I did side-by-side assessments of moussaka with thinly sliced ​​Yukon Gold potatoes ready the next approach: pre-cooked and fried. I additionally made a moussaka with out potatoes as a witness. I used to be anticipating to love the one with out the potatoes (given my love of eggplant), however discovered I preferred the potatoes in my moussaka. The one with precooked potatoes did not measure up – the potatoes tasted under-seasoned and waterlogged. Nonetheless, the model with fried potatoes was glorious: their starchy crunch was a welcome foil to the heaviness of the eggplant, meat sauce and bechamel. So on this recipe I fry the potatoes like eggplant, till golden brown on each side, then end with a pinch of salt.

The Meeting

This recipe makes lots of moussaka, so I take advantage of a sturdy 9×13-inch baking dish set on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any spills. I begin by laying out a single layer of fried potato slices within the pan (you possibly can overlap them barely as you’d in a Gratin) adopted by a second layer on high, then I do the identical with the fried eggplant. Pour the meat sauce over the eggplant, pour the béchamel sauce over it (I like to make use of a small offset spatula to get a easy floor) and sprinkle the entire thing with grated kefalotyri.

After baking, I let the moussaka relaxation for half-hour to agency up the layers earlier than slicing and serving. As moussaka is especially filling, Rona and Elsa say it’s often served with contemporary bread, Greek saladand Spinach Tart. Personally, I discovered that I fairly loved a sq. of moussaka as is, savoring every layer, earlier than serving myself one other slice.



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