Cinnamony moussaka

I usually make this recipe if I want to impress someone. Although it takes some time to make, it’s not difficult and once prepared can be left to set until you are ready to bake it. Moussaka has rich cinnamon flavours which is complimented by the red wine in the mince sauce. The dish comprises of three parts- the cinnamon mince, layers of grilled aubergine (eggplant) and a think white sauce.

Traditionally aubergine is prepared by cutting it length-wise in thick slices, salting it and letting it stand, allowing the bitter taste, associated with the vegetable, to withdraw.  You then rinse the slices and grill or fry the aubergine. I skip this step, first of all to minimise the amount of salt that I use, and secondly, my aubergine has never tasted bitter to me. This might be personal choice, and as I mention on my home page- I firmly believe that recipes serve as guidelines and ideas, that can be changed and modified according to your taste and what you have available. Cooking is about having fun, being creative and sharing!

Back to the recipe:

3 medium sized, firm and fresh aubergines, thickly (0.5 cm-1 cm) cut

I grill them without any dressing in a sandwich press, but you can also rub them with olive oil and grill them in a oven at 180 degrees Celsius until they turn golden or are done (usually about 15 min)

Once grilled, keep aside

For the mince:

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

2 tablespoon olive oil

400 gram lean mince

70 grams tomato paste (1 small tin)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

3/4 cup red wine

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over moderate heat in a pan. Sauté the onions and garlic for 5-8 minutes, then add the mince. Brown the mince, and add the tomato paste. Mix well, and add the cinnamon. Again, mix well, add the wine and water, put a lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  The fluid should evaporate. Add the parsley, salt and pepper to taste and set aside

For the white sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 heaped normal dessert spoons cake flour

1 1/2 cup milk

salt to taste

handful of cheese to flavour the sauce if so desired

Cheese to top the dish for baking

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour.  Stir (or whisk) continuously whilst slowly adding the milk, and allow to thicken between each addition.   Add salt and cheese to taste once sauce has thickened and set aside. If the sauce is to thick, you can always add more milk if you wish to have a thinner sauce.

Assembly of the moussaka:

Grease a medium-sized oven casserole ( I used a 20 cm X 20 cm dish). First place a layer of grilled aubergine, followed by a layer of mince. End with a layer of aubergine at the top (I get 3 layers aubergine, and 2 mince layers). Cover the top layer of aubergine with white sauce and cheese and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the dish to stand for 10 minutes before serving with a green salad.