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The ultimate moussaka

Moussaka Recipe

The ultimate moussaka
Whether you call it aubergine, eggplant or brinjal – this member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, and chilli peppers, is a worldwide favourite. It is especially popular in the cuisines of Turkey and Greece where it is often prepared as part of a mezze platter.

Serves 4-6

2 chopped onions
2T chopped parsley
4 chopped garlic cloves
800g beef mince
1t ground cinnamon
1t dried oregano
1 bay leaf
½ cup white wine
2 cups tomato paste
4-5 potatoes, fry thin slices
olive oil
2 large aubergines, sliced
béchamel sauce

Fry 2 chopped onions until golden, then stir in 2T chopped parsley and 4 chopped garlic cloves. Add 800g beef mince and, when brown, add 1t ground cinnamon, 1t dried oregano and 1 bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until dry then add ½ cup white wine and 2 cups tomato paste. Simmer for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, fry thin slices of 4-5 potatoes in olive oil until cooked through. Season. Next, in the same oil, adding more if needed, fry the salted and drained slices of 2 large aubergines on both sides. (You can also brush them with oil and char grill.) To assemble – arrange half the aubergine in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole dish followed by all the potatoes and then half the mince. Repeat the aubergine and mince layers. Top with store-bought béchamel sauce and bake at 180ºC for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve at room temperature.

How to prepare aubergines
Salting aubergines Arrange aubergine slices or cubes in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for 15-30 minutes. Wash and pat dry with kitchen paper. This is done to draw out excess water and bitter juices although, with the newer varieties of aubergine, this process is not deemed necessary.

Aubergine purée Prick aubergines before baking them at 220ºC for about 45 minutes until soft (this will depend on their size). Scoop out the flesh, and drop in colander or strainer. Press with a wooden spoon to remove juices.

Preparing aubergines to be filled Boil aubergine halves in salted water until almost tender. Dry and brown in hot oil on both sides. They are now ready. Scoop out some pulp and mix in with your filling. Alternatively, cut lengthwise without breaking the skin. Open the slits with a spoon, pressing to make a pocket.)

Chargrilling aubergines Salt and drain sliced aubergines as described above, then paint with olive oil (flavoured or unflavoured) and chargrill till soft, turning to brown both sides. Use as a side dish or part of a recipe.

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