This is one of the most traditional Greek dishes. Locals and visitors to Greece love it. It is not just the plethora of ingredients and aromas. It is the fact that one piece and a salad are enough for a full meal.
Begin by preparing the eggplants. Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them into slices, 1 cm thick. Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour. (Tip: Some eggplants may be bitter, so it is very important to remove the bitterness by seasoning with salt and letting them stand for half an hour in a colander).
Rinse the eggplants with plenty of water and squeeze with your hands, to get rid of the excessive water. Pat them dry and fry in plenty of oil, until nicely coloured. Place the fried eggplants on some paper, in order to absorb the oil. (Tip: For a lighter version, try drizzling the aubergines with some olive oil and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes instead of frying them).
Prepare the potatoes: Cut the potatoes into slices, 1cm thick. Season with salt and fry in oil or bake for 20-30minutes.
While the eggplants and potatoes are being cooked, you can prepare the meat sauce. Heat a large pan to medium -high heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the chopped onions and sauté until softened and slightly coloured. Stir in the garlic, tomato puree and the minced beef breaking it up with a wooden spoon and sauté. Pour in the red wine and wait to evaporate. Add the tomatoes, the sugar, the cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated.
Prepare the béchamel sauce: Use a large and deep pan over low-medium heat, put the milk, the butter, the flour and the cinnamon. Start immediately whisking continuously to make a paste and keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. (Tip: If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir). Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolk, salt, pepper and the grated cheese. Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the egg from turning an omelette!
Assemble the moussaka. For this recipe, you will need a large baking dish (pyrex). Butter the bottom and sides of the pan. First layer all the potatoes, then layer half of the eggplants, and then layer the minced beef with its sauce. Add a second layer of eggplants and top with the béchamel sauce. Smooth out he béchamel sauce with a spatula.
Bake the moussaka in preheated oven at 180-200C for about 60 minutes, until crust turns light golden brown. Tip: Add some aluminium foil for the first 30 minutes in order to avoid the béchamel sauce to be burnt.
You should wait for the Moussaka to cool down for a while before cutting into pieces.
Tip: Serve the Moussaka with a nice refreshing Greek salad and enjoy over a glass of wine!
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