Massouka Margot’s Way
At the market today eggplant and shoulder lamb chops were on sale—so of course this led me to salivating for a good Massouka. In my estimation, this is not an absolutely gorgeous dish to view, even when plated, and I do like aesthetically pleasing dishes to serve. However, it’s so good to eat, particularly when you make it the time consuming way, that I have forgiven its looks. I prefer it without sliced potatoes, however, it’s good with as well. I add instead of potatoes a yellow, orange or red sliced pepper and 2 zucchini sliced. I also used my processor for most of the chopping, etc. They come in so handy! I serve it sided with a crusty loaf of French bread and a nice light salad. And for desert, it’s fun to have some fresh cut up fruit along with Greek yogurt. So, when you have a minute to spare, do give it a try. Also remember, you don’t have to follow the amounts of the ingredients exactly—it’s a very versatile dish and you can alter and make it just to your very own taste and liking.
- 1 large eggplant-slightly peeled—leave strips of peel about 1 inch wide in-between peeled sections and slice in 1/2 inch slices.
- 1/4 lb. potatoes, peeled, boiled whole till just barely done, drained, cooled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices (optional)
- 1 yellow, orange or red pepper-seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/4 inch slices (optional)
- 2 egg whites slightly beaten with a dash of water and placed on a plate for primary eggplant dipping –SAVE THE YOLKS FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE
- 1 C. (or more if needed) plain bread crumbs placed on one plate for secondary eggplant dipping plus save some extra bread crumbs to place on the bottom of your final baking dish.
- Some olive oil to moisten your baking dish and also to moisten the aluminum foil on the cookie pan to bake your eggplant
- 1C to 1 ½ C. grated Parmesan cheese or grated/crumbled sheep or goat milk cheese
Ingredients for the meat filling:
- 1 lb. shoulder lamb chops if you can’t find ground lamb in the store. Remove meat from chop bone and grind in processor. You can use ground beef but honestly, I love the lamb flavor in this dish.
- 1/2 to 3/4 large yellow onion—diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 handful of sliced mushrooms
- 1/4 C. chopped parsley
- 1/4 C. red wine
- 1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 Tsp. ground allspice
- 1 C. (divided in two portions) fresh plum tomatoes, crushed in the processor
- 1/2 Tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- S&P to taste
Ingredients for the Bechamel Sauce:
- 1/4 C. unsalted butter
- 1/4 C. flour
- 1 C. whole milk, warmed
- 2 egg yolks slightly beaten
- Dash of ground allspice
For the Meat Filling
- In a large and deep pot (but you can use a sauté pan), brown the lamb until the pink color disappears. Add onion and mushrooms and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute or till fragrant. Add the wine and simmer until it reduces a bit. Add the spices, parsley, tomato paste, 1/2 C. crushed tomatoes and sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer on low uncovered for about 15 minutes so that the excess, if any, liquid disappears. It should look like a chunky tomato sauce. Season to taste with S&P. Now taste some more and see if you want to add some more cinnamon and allspice.
For the Eggplants
- Liberally salt each eggplant slice on each side and place them in a colander with a plate on top. Then place a heavy can on top of the plate. Let the eggplant slices sit and weep for at least 15 minutes but better if you can wait an hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place aluminum foil on a large cookie sheet and oil it.
- When the eggplant slices are ready, wash each slice and pat dry it with a paper towel. Then dip each side of each slice first in the egg whites and then in the bread crumbs and place on the cookie sheet.
- Bake the eggplants for 30 minutes but at 15 minutes, turn the egg plants over to the undone side.
- When the eggplants are done, turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
For the Bechamel Sauce: (If you wish a liberal serving of this sauce, double the recipe)
- Melt butter in a skillet over low heat and using a whisk, add the flour to the melted butter whisking continually to make a smooth past. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do NOT allow it to brown because otherwise it won’t be béchamel sauce; it’ll be brown sauce.
- Add the warmed milk to the mixture in a steady stream, whisking continually. Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit. WATCH CAREFULLY.
- Take the skillet off the heat and slowly whisk in the egg yolks and a pinch of nutmeg. Return to low heat and keep whisking until the sauce thickens.
Assembling the Moussaka:
- In a well oiled large round (10” or 12”) Pyrex dish, sprinkle the bottom with breadcrumbs. You are going to make at least 2 layers but it can be even three—so divide your ingredients accordingly.
- Leaving about 1/4″ space around the edges, place a layer of all of the potatoes if you are using them and if not, then start with placing a layer of sliced eggplant, then some of the remainder of the 1/2 C. of crushed tomatoes, and then the zucchini and pepper, then some of the meat sauce, then some cheese and so on except be sure to save some cheese for placing on top of the béchamel sauce.
- Then pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow the sauce to fill the sides and corners of the dish. Smooth the sauce on top with a spatula and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake in the 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool for 15-20 minu8tes before slicing and serving.
- This dish can be refrigerated and made ahead up to when you place the béchamel sauce. If you do that, let the dish come up to room temp and make the béchamel sauce right before baking.