Moussaka

Tonia Buxtons Greek version of shepherds pie is comfort food at its mouth-watering best
By Tonia Buxton
Moussaka
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 2 hours degorging time
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

  • 500 g aubergines, trimmed and sliced lengthways in thick slices
  • salt, for degorging
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthways
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 500 g courgettes, trimmed and sliced lengthways in thick slices
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 450 g minced lamb
  • 400400 g chopped canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

For the white sauce

  • 600 ml milk
  • 50 g butter
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 g freshly grated cheese, such as haloumi, kefalotiri or a strong cheddar
  • pinches ground cinnamon

Method

1. Slice the aubergines thickly, sprinkle with salt and put them on kitchen paper to degorge for 1-2 hours. Rinse away any liquid and salt and dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.

2. Fry the potatoes in a little of the olive oil till golden brown, then drain on kitchen paper. Repeat for the courgettes and lastly, the aubergines.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over moderate heat and cook the onions until softened and just turning golden. Add the minced lamb, breaking up any lumps, and fry until it changes colour.

4. Stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon and parsley and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer until the mixture is thick and the liquid is absorbed.

5. For the white sauce: in a small saucepan, warm three-quarters of the milk with the butter.

6. In a bowl, mix the remaining milk with the cornflour, then whisk in the eggs and add the grated cheese and cinnamon.

7. Gradually mix a little of the warm milk into the egg mixture, then slowly stir the egg mixture back into the saucepan of milk and put it over a low heat. Stir until it thickens to a custard consistency.

8. Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3.

9. To assemble the moussaka, arrange the potatoes in a layer on the bottom of a 25cm square baking dish. Top with half the aubergine slices, then half the courgettes. Spread over all of the meat sauce, then add another layer of aubergines and courgettes. Cover with the white sauce and bake for 1-1½ hours until the top is a nice crusty brown.

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