Test kitchen: Moussaka

20 Dec

As I have previously mentioned, my husband is half Greek.  So, when we first moved in together, I made it a point to try to learn some of classic Greek recipes to impress him (and my now mother-in-law).  I bought this wonderful cookbook called “The Complete Book of Greek Cooking”, which is a compilation of recipes by a group of women from Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  Before Alex, I had never even eaten a Greek meal besides the occasional gyro.  So testing out some of these foreign recipes was very daunting.

I might not be Greek, and cooking these dishes might not come naturally to me, but I do feel like I make a pretty darn good Moussaka. I’ve tested the recipe many times and even put my own twist on the classic Greek eggplant lasagna.

I passed along this recipe to my boss, and this week’s guest blogger, Jeff.  Read his tale behind testing out this recipe below.

(A photo of my Moussaka)

3 large zucchini
vegetable oil for brushing zucchini
4 tbsp butter
3 lbs ground beef
1 ½ cups chopped onion
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup copped parsley
½ cup wine
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chicken broth
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
1.2 cup breadcrumbs
Béchamel sauce
3 eggs, lightly beaten

  1. Cut zucchini into ¼ inch rounds, sprinkle with salt, and let stand in a colander under a heavy or weighted plate for a ½ hour.  Rinse and dry zucchini rounds.
  2. Melt butter in saucepan and sauté meat and onion until brown.  Add tomato paste, parsley, wine, salt, pepper and broth.
  3. Simmer the meat mixture until liquid is absorbed.  Cool.  Stir in cinnamon, ½ cup cheese, and half the breadcrumbs.
  4. Prepare the béchamel sauce using the Chew Me! ‘back to basics’ recipe.
  5. Temper the 3 eggs into the béchamel sauce, then cook over very low heat for 2 minutes.  Stir constantly.
  6. Lightly brush zucchini slices with oil on both sides. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and broil until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Sprinkle bottom of a 10 x 16-inch pan with remaining breadcrumbs.
  9. Place a layer of eggplant slices on the breadcrumbs, then spread meat mixture over eggplant slices.  Cover meat with remaining eggplant slices. Spoon sauce over eggplant, sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup grated cheese.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden.  Cool for 10 minutes before cutting.  Serve warm.

This recipe can be prepared up to the cream sauce and finished the next day.  It can also be baked, cooled, frozen and reheated.

Tales from Jeff’s test kitchen:

I made the Moussaka .  I’m sure it’s spelled many different ways, I respect them all.

Easy preparation if you can use a knife, plan for the future, and read a recipe.  I apologize for the dearth of picture, and/or the quality of the pictures. I’m mildly retarded, as you may know.  In so many ways.

I was given a good recipe, very straightforward, very truthful.  Time doesn’t always figure into a recipe, especially an older recipe, but this one was fine.  I was thankful.

Two eleven-year-old boys were in my home as I prepared the dish.  There was much distraction, including fighting, Xbox, shouting, TV that included South Park on DVR, and tormenting of an elderly cat.  These children are a blessing, though one was not my own.  It’s great to see true American diversity working.

The cutting and the chopping, and all I have is a knife.  I wonder: why don’t I buy a chopper, or a food processor?  I don’t know.  I really DO know, but the answer is hard, too hard.

I know how to make a roux. My rouxs are dynamite.  Slowly heating, slowly adding ingredients, adding love, so much stirring, so much patience.

When I cook with wine, and this recipe called for it, I always use the prescribed amount, and delicately sip (CHUG) the rest.  That’s honest, that’s truth.  In this world of relativism, at least we can “know” this is the truth.  But can we?  Yes.

Doing all things as asked by the recipe, I created a dish that I can only describe as delicious.  And one of the boys ate the whole plate I served and said it was good.  The Lad, my offspring, he deigned to dine, and ended up making his famous cheese dogs to sate his hunger.  I admit I hadn’t fed him since the morning and it was by then almost 7 PM.  My bad. Still, eat the swill, no matter what, and say “thank you,” that’s the way it should be.  As an aside, I watched the movie “The Road” and throughout I just kept thinking, this is ME!  This is me and The Lad!  Right now, not in the future.  What does the future hold, I wonder?  Searing, mind-bending pain, I’m sure.

This is a heck of a dish.  Greek Lasagna was what I called it when I read it, and it’s like that, but more complex.  We used slim-sliced zucchini instead of eggplant.  I think this is a beautiful choice.  Eggplant is fussy and unpredictable; it’s hard to wrap our minds around it.  Has anyone ever seen an eggplant growing?  Is it from a tree, a bush, or a vine?  Does it grow under the sea?  Is it mined?  We’ll never know.

Thank you, Chew Me blog!  You have provided elegant sustenance for me and mine and given me brief distraction from searing reality.

What does tomorrow bring?  Why, sorrow and the toilet, of course.  And how life shifts.  And how we are all just one misfired synapse from eternity.

Pray for the saints in the Diaspora.

Go in peace.

moussaka cut


2 Responses to “Test kitchen: Moussaka”

  1. d j richert August 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    Which photo is best represents this recipes execution, top or bottom? I’m betting bottom but I’m hoping top.

    • chewmeblog August 14, 2017 at 11:27 pm #

      Both! The top picture is from my kitchen and the bottom is from when my friend tried my recipe. A lot of it has to do with lighting 😊

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