2 lb. (1 kg) finely ground beef or 24 oz (675 g) beef and 8 oz (225 g) lamb,
both finely ground. The meat must be as lean as possible
1 medium tin ( 13 oz/400 g) peeled tomatoes,
de-seeded and liquidized with their juice
4 medium-sized round aubergines
2 medium onions, finely chopped, 4 fl oz (100 ml) red or white wine
1/2 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tbs. oregano, salt and pepper
2 oz (60 g) plain flour, 2 oz (60 g) unsalted butter
About 18 fl oz (1/2 litre) warm milk, 4 beaten eggs
5 oz (150 g) finely grated kefalotyri cheese,
(use parmesan and pecoríno mixed), a pinch of grated nutmeg
Cut off the stalk ends of the aubergines, cut in thin slices lengthwise, arrange on a plate and sprinkle with salt. Cover with another plate and leave to “weep” for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile sauté the onions in a little olive oil, then add the meat and brown thoroughly Add the wine and cook over a moderate heat for one minute, then add the tomatoes, cinnamon, oregano and seasonings, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes – there should not be much liquid left. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat. Now drain and pat dry the slices of aubergine and fry them in oil until they are a golden brown. Spread out the slices on kitchen paper and press them slightly with a fish slice to remove excess oil.
Now make the béchamel by melting the butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour. When they are combined but not brown, add the warmed milk in stages and cook until you have a thick sauce. Add the seasonings, grated nutmeg and half the cheese and stir well over the heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly Now begin to “build” the moussaká as follows in a deep-sided ovenproof dish (or you could use individual earthenware dishes):
Spread a layer of aubergine slices on the bottom of the dish, then one third of the meat mixture on top. Repeat this twice, then put a final layer of aubergine slices on top, making sure that the meat mixture is well covered (to prevent the béchamel from penetrating through to the lower layers). Now beat the eggs into the béchamel mixture, and pour it on top of the last layer of meat. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the surface, and bake immediately in a moderate oven (180-90 C, 350-375 F, gas mark 4-5) for about 45 minutes – the surface should be a golden brown colour. To serve: sprinkle over a little more finely grated cheese (optional), then allow to stand for 10-15 minutes.
If it is to be reheated later, cover loosely with foil. Best made in advance, several hours before it is required, then reheated at 160 C, 325 F gas mark 3 for about 40 minutes. Serves 6
Variation: many tavernas substitute a layer of sautéed potato slices for the bottom layer of aubergines.
Vegetarian mousaka: Substitute layers of sautéed potatoes and zucchini simmered in tomato sauce for the layers of meat and sauce in moussaká.