Moussaka

Serves 6-8 

Ingredients

4 large aubergines (eggplants)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 kilo of lamb mince (can be substitute with beef)

¼ cup/60ml olive oil 

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1 cinnamon stick (or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon)

1 glass of red wine

1 tablespoon of tomato purée

1 teaspooon of sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of oregano 

Extra oil for frying the aubergines

Salt and Pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce

150g butter

100g plain flour

1lt milk

2 eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon of nutmeg

100g cheese – grated kefalotyri (pecorino romano works well)

Salt and pepper

You will need a 32cm (3lt) oven-proof dish.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4).

Method 

1. Slice the aubergines, put them into a colander, salt them and leave at least 30 minutes while you start your meat sauce.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and stir.

3. Once the onion begins to soften, add the garlic.

4. Add the lamb and cook until browned all over.

5. Add the wine, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, tomato purée, sugar, oregano.

6. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and season with salt and pepper. Slowly simmer until the liquid has evaporated (approximately an hour), stirring occasionally, until you have a lovely rich sauce.

7. While the sauce is cooking, rinse the aubergines and pat them dry.

8. Heat some oil in a large frying pan and brown the aubergine slices on both sides.

9. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Béchamel Sauce - Method 

1. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan.

2. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to thicken.

3. Gradually add the milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the beaten eggs.

Assembly

1. Arrange a third of the aubergines at the bottom of a 32cm rectangular dish and sprinkle with a little of the cheese.

2. Cover with half the meat sauce, add the second layer of aubergines with another sprinkling of cheese.

3. Add the remaining meat sauce and the final layer of remaining aubergines.

4. Pour the béchamel sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

5. Put into the pre-heated oven 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4) and bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

6. Let it stand for a good ten minutes before serving.

"For a richer, more filling moussaka you can add a layer of potatoes to the bottom of the dish; simply slice and fry in the same way as the aubergine. Serve with a Greek or a simple green salad."