Monday, August 24, 2009

Dinner: Moussaka

During our routine Monday morning walk, Babs and I were discussing dinner possibilities. I had these two gorgeous eggplants that I needed to use before our next produce delivery this Wednesday. I thought about making the Jamie Oliver pasta, eggplant, mozz recipe again or the Cook's Illustrated eggplant parm for two recipe again.

I think that's my downfall as a cook; I like to make the same things again and again to improve on them and because I know they're tasty treats and I know how long they take to make. And Babs knows this repetitive recipe trick of mine, so she recommended Moussaka.

My tummy rumbled, and I knew what was for dinner. Thanks, Babs!

I went online and found this Tyler Florence recipe. It seemed easy enough. And it was easy, just like difficulty level suggests. However, it's very time consuming. This is not a dish I would prepare in a flash. It look time prepping the eggplant and other ingredients. (Granted I'm slower in the kitchen because my knife skills suck and trying to cook with a wounded finger slows everything down.) After prepping the dish must bake for 30-40 minutes, which takes time but it's time that can be used to clean the kitchen and put together some peach fruit crisp (more on that dessert later). Overall, though, time was the only drawback.

This dish turn out stunningly! It had so much flavor and really was much lighter than Moussaka I've had at several restaurants. Because Tyler's recipe calls for feta, it wasn't heavy or overwhleming with bechamel. Also, I used ground beef instead of ground lamb because it's what we had on hand, and it was perfect--not greasy like other times I've had it. We had only 2 smaller-ish eggplants, so I halved the recipe and made one layer of eggplant, one layer of meat, and topped it with the cheese and breadcrumbs; doing it this way totally worked! I added a few pats of butter on top my breadcrumbs too to avoid them drying out. The only addition I would make in the future is to add fresh mint if I was using lamb. We served our moussaka with malabar spinach with roasted garlic and fresh lemon, which really brought out the lemon & garlic in the casserole. (Again, sorry for the bad pic! I'm using my phone's camera.)

Added bonus we have a lot of leftovers, which is great because we don't have time to cook dinner for the next couple of nights. Luckily, I have a feeling that this dish is even better leftover...

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