Monday, August 20, 2012
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Eggplant fry time: 20 minutes
Lamb fry time: 8 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes
Total cook time: 2 hours
3 medium eggplants (1 pound each), sliced diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds lean ground lamb
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons brandy
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons thyme
1 can (35 ounces) Italian peeled tomatoes, drained well and chopped
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup heavy cream
prepare the eggplant and potatoes:
Place a colander over a plate, layer eggplant slices in colander sprinkling each layer liberally with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. This will remove the bitterness from the eggplant. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
fry the eggplant:
Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over high heat. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour; shake off any excess. Add the eggplant to the skillet in batches and fry over high heat, using up to an additional 3/4 cups of oil as necessary, until all the eggplant slices have been browned (about 2 minutes per side). Drain the fried eggplant on paper towels to remove excess oil. Reserve the largest and most attractive slices to top the Moussaka.
cook the onions and lamb:
Wipe the skillet clean. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and heat over moderate heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown (about 5 to 10 minutes). Add the lamb and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no traces of pink remains (about 10 minutes).
bring it all together:
1. Transfer the lamb mixture to a colander and drain, then return it to the skillet. Stir in the tomato paste, brandy, cinnamon, thyme, and pepper. Cook over moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring to blend flavors. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the tomatoes, reserved potatoes, and the feta cheese; stir well to combine.
2. Preheat oven to 350º. Line the bottom and sides of a 5- to 6-quart, shallow baking dish with the fried eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly. Reserve about 30 of the best looking eggplant slices for the top of the Moussaka.
3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and the heavy cream. Spoon half the meat mixture into the lined baking dish, pour on half the egg and heavy cream mixture, and top with ½ the fried egg plant. Repeat with the remaining meat and egg mixture. Cover with the reserved eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly in a decorative pattern.
bake the Moussaka:
Bake until the egg mixture is set and the top is nicely browned (about 45 minutes).
Let the baked Moussaka stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Slice the Moussaka in 8 equal sized portions and serve accompanied by Spanakopita, Pitakopita and/or a Greek salad.