Mmmm moussaka I love it! Now, my take on moussaka isn’t the true authentic dish that you would expect to get served up in beautiful Greece. But, it is nice and easy to pop together, extremely tasty and naturally gluten free!
I rustled this moussaka up the other night. Making use of some leftover Bolognese that we’d had for another meal, for the meaty base. The finished result was so good, that I thought I’d get on and jot down the recipe for you to refer to, should you wish to make it from scratch.
Moussaka of course is traditionally made with minced lamb. But I’m not a huge fan, as I find the flavour a little strong. So, I tend to make my moussaka with great quality minced beef instead. Of course, it’s all down to taste and this recipe will work great with whatever meat you choose to use.
Ingredients (serves 4)
500g (1lb) good quality minced beef
1 large onion finely diced
1 large peeled and grated carrot
2 sticks celery’s finely diced
2 garlic cloves crushed/grated
1 Knorr beef *stock cube
Red wine (about a glass)
1 tablespoon tomato puree – love CIRIO 70g individual pots, that in the UK, come in packs of 4
1 x 400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large aubergine thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves left whole
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into about ¼ inch slices – Maris Piper, king Edward or Red are all rather delicious and will work really well
Salt and *pepper
For the cheese sauce
600ml 1 pint milk
25g (1oz) butter
1 heaped tablespoon *cornflour
150g (5oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon *Dijon mustard
Salt and *pepper
Add the mince, garlic, onion, carrot and celery to a large pan and pop onto the heat. Stir lots at this stage to break the mince down.
Once the mince has browned sprinkle in the stock cube, stir through and allow it to dissolve. Pour in the wine and cook out for a few minutes. Next add the puree, tinned tomatoes, sugar and a generous twist of pepper. Bring to a nice gentle simmer and leave to cook for about 30 minutes. Give it an occasional stir to ensure it’s not catching on the bottom of the pan.
Whilst the mince is cooking, you can get on and sort out the other things you need to do……….
Place the potato slices into a large pan and fill with cold water. Bring the pan to the boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to cook for a further 10 minutes or so or until the potatoes are just cooked. You can of course check they’re done by inserting a knife into the potatoes. Once cooked drain off the water and set the pan to one side.
When it comes to prepping the aubergines, I tend to skip the part of sprinkling the slices with salt, leaving for a while and rinsing. Instead I get straight on to cooking them once I have washed and sliced them and haven’t experienced a problem. So here we go; add a good splash of olive oil and the garlic cloves to a large frying pan heat the oil gently and then lay the aubergine slices into the pan and fry on each side for a couple of minutes until they are golden brown. Best to do this in batches rather than overcrowding the pan. Add more oil if the pan gets a little dry. Once cooked, lift the slices from the pan and lay them onto a tray or large plate lined with kitchen paper.
To make the sauce – Pour most of the milk into a saucepan reserving enough to blend with the cornflour. Add the butter and bring the milk to the boil and stir in the cornflour mixture. Mix well until the sauce becomes nice and thick and smooth. Let it bubble a little at this stage and then taste the sauce to ensure the cornflour has fully cooked out. It shouldn’t taste at all grainy. If it does, get it back on the heat to cook out a little longer. Then, add most of the grated cheese (reserve a little to sprinkle over the top at the end) and mustard and stir until the cheese has melted. Season to taste. Adding a little more mustard if you feel it needs it.
Right that’s all the prep done, now time to preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6/180C fan and assemble your moussaka. Transfer the mince into a large ovenproof dish (I used this tin from IKEA. I love it! It measures 9×8 inch and is 2 inch depth and is a perfect size for moussaka, lasagne or a cottage pie). Next lay the sliced aubergines over the mince, then add a layer of potatoes. Finally pour over the cheese sauce and finish with a scattering of grated cheese and a few twists of pepper. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until it’s golden brown and bubbling deliciously around the edges.
Serving suggestion: This yummy moussaka would work so well served up with a aromatic baby lettuce leaf and herb salad, a few slices of juicy ripe tomato and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. And maybe add a nice thick slice of toasted gluten free bread, rubbed with fresh garlic, drizzled with olive oil and topped off with a few sea salt flakes!
Whilst moussaka is not at all difficult to make, It can be a little time consuming to prepare and can turn the most well ordered kitchen, into a bit of a pickle. So, should you fancy making it for a few people, I would suggest you make it ahead of time. It will keep really well (pre-baked and without the grated cheese on top), for up to two days in the fridge and for a month in the freezer.
*Double check this ingredient to ensure it has no gluten containing ingredients, ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable warnings’. If in doubt leave it out.