Moussaka - a family favourite!

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Moussaka - a family favourite!
This dish is a classic and it will give you plenty, even for the next day. You can even freeze some portions if you have any leftovers. A quick tip… If you are planning on making this dish and it seems like a bit too much work all at once, you can make the meat sauce from the day before.

Serves 8 

Ingredients

6 medium sized aubergines (1 kg in total)
250ml olive oil
1 large onion – finely chopped
3 tablespoons of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
3 garlic gloves – finely chopped
500g minced beef 
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick 
½ dried oregano
2 bay leaves
125ml white wine (small glass)
2 jars of Greka tomato sauce with Aubergines and Sweet Red Peppers
Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Béchamel sauce, you need:
120g (4oz) unsalted butter
125g (1 cup) of plain flour
1 litre (4 cups) of warm milk
A little freshly grated nutmeg

Method

Trim the tops off the aubergines and slice lengthways into 5mm (¼ inch) slices. Put them in a large bowl of salted water and leave them for about 30 minutes to draw out any bitterness. In the meantime, heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat and add the beef mince. Cook the mince until it begins to brown. Add the chopped onion and cook for a minute, then add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano and bay leaf and stir everything together. Add the wine and once most of the wine has evaporated add the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes. Fill one of the cans with water, add to the mixture along with salt and pepper. Stir everything together and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring now and then. Add the parsley to the mince and stir through. 

Drain the water from the aubergines and pat them dry. As aubergines absorb a lot of oil instead of frying, brush each slice of aubergine with olive oil and bake in the oven until dark golden brown.  Remove the slices to a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil. Repeat until you have finished all the aubergine slices.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Arrange half the aubergine slices over the base of your oven proof dish, slightly overlapping them. Salt and pepper. Add the mince, pressing it down lightly with the back of a spoon. Add the rest of the aubergine in the same way as the first layer.

Set aside while you are preparing the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly then begin to add the warm milk.  It will be immediately absorbed, so work quickly, whisking with one hand while you add the milk with the other. When the sauce seems smooth and not to stiff add salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg and mix all together. Taste for seasoning and by this time it should be a thick and smooth sauce. Pour the béchamel sauce over the aubergines.

Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until the moussaka begins to bubble up and the top is a dark golden brown colour. 

Leave it in the oven to cool slightly before serving and enjoy! It’s totally worth the effort!

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