Let’s pretend we’re on holiday…
Many of us have sadly, missed out on a holiday abroad this year.
So, why not recreate a classic Greek evening - put a blue and white tablecloth on the table, source a bottle of retsina (or the cheapest dreadful wine you can find would substitute well!) or perhaps rummage for that bottle of ouzo or metaxa brandy sitting in the back of the cupboard for the past 20 years; find some old plates to break and play Nana Mouskouri or Demis Roussos in the background.
Then all you need is the meal that is served in every taverna ever visited – gorgeous Moussaka, of course.
To serve 4-6; fry 2 large chopped onions and 2 large chopped garlic cloves in olive oil with about 750g lamb mince. Now add a good glug of red wine (and no you cannot use the retsina up this way please); add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon each of dried oregano, mint and cinnamon and season. Allow to bubble away for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, thinly slice 4 large potatoes (leave the skins on if you like) and par boil for about 8 minutes until just cooked. Drain well.
Now thinly slice 2 aubergines. They also need pre-cooking, so you could either brush the slices in olive oil and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or pop them under the grill, fry them or griddle them to achieve those posh cheffy stripes, of which I am particularly fond.
Now you can start compiling – simply place half the rich tomatoey fragrant meat in a large ovenproof dish and top with half the sliced aubergines and then half the sliced potatoes. Repeat so you have 2 layers of everything.
Finally, mix a 250g tub of crème fraiche with 2 beaten eggs and pour on top of the mixture. Bake in hot oven for about 40 minutes until bubbling and golden on top. mmmmm.
The Greeks always seem to eat their food ‘just warm’ – but that is of course up to you. Depending on how authentic you want it. I like it served hot on a warmed plate or in a warmed bowl, eaten with just a fork; but then I am from Guildford not Athens. You don’t really need to serve it with anything else, perhaps just a green salad, as the one dish already contains the meat, vegetables and potatoes. Win win.
Whilst this is my version of a classic, you could always substitute beef mince or veggie mince (making a vegetarian dish) for the lamb; add your own choice of herbs, even leave out the wine(?!) or garlic, omit the potatoes altogether for a lighter meal or add more for something more hearty; even bulk it out with cooked vegetables added to the meat, before layering with the aubergines. Other toppings could be a creamy or cheesy béchamel sauce or even some thick Greek yogurt.
At the end of the day, it may not be a real Greek Moussaka, or perhaps it is? With over 6000 islands, surely one of them would recognise my version and at least acknowledge it is a really delicious meal, great for feeding the family or (when the time comes again) a large crowd.
Enjoy Sue x