David's Recipe for Moussaka

Known as a Greek dish, it's actually eaten in one form or another all over the Balkans. All of the versions involve many stages, because eggplants are like that.

Main Course, Balkan

  • 3 lbs ground meat
  • 5 medium eggplants
  • A handful of salt, preferably coarse ground
  • 3 onions
  • 1 large can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 dried bay leaf, broken in half
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups boiling water
  1. Preheat oven to high.
  2. Cut the two ends off of the eggplants.
  3. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into slices about 1/2" thick, scatter salt on both sides of each slice, and let them sit 1/2 hour. This will remove the bitterness which is sometimes found in eggplants.
  4. Brown the eggplants on both sides in 2 tbsp oil. You will probably have to add oil after each batch.
  5. Slice and brown the onions. Add the meat and continue to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to brown a few minutes more.
  6. Add the bay leaf, oregano, black pepper, and boiling water to the meat mixture. Simmer another 10 minutes.
  7. Arrange some of the eggplant slices in a single layer which will cover the bottom of a cookie sheet with high walls or a baking dish as completely as possible. Use the large slices for the end you begin with and the middle, and the small slices to fill in the small spaces at the remaining edges.
  8. Ladle a layer of the meat mixture over the eggplant slices.
  9. Add another layer of eggplant slices, then ladle another layer of meat mixture over them.
  10. Keep adding alternate layers of eggplant and meat until you have run out of both.
  11. Put the cookie sheet or baking pan in the oven, lower the heat to moderate, and cook uncovered for 1 hour.
  12. Using a very sharp knife, cut the moussaka into rectangles for serving.

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