Moussaka is a one-dish meal containing beef or lamb, eggplant or potatoes, tomato sauce, cinnamon and other seasonings, and a sauce of eggs, milk and cheese. Although other countries such as Turkey also make moussaka, it is best known as part of Greek cuisine.
Preparing moussaka takes hours. The cook first fries the eggplant slices, then prepares the meat and tomato sauce, next makes the bechamel or cheese sauce, then assembles all of these into a large, square casserole dish or baking pan and bakes it.
The traditional version of moussaka uses eggplant, says Lynn Livanos Athan, Greek food expert on About.com. Her recipe uses both eggplant and potatoes, and leaves the choice of beef or lamb to the reader. She starts by partially peeling, slicing, salting and pressing the eggplant to remove moisture. Next, she peels and boils the potatoes, then cools and slices them. She then breads the eggplant slices and bakes them for half an hour at 400 degrees, turning them once during cooking.
To make the meat, she sautes it in a pan with chopped onion and garlic, then adds wine, cinnamon, allspice, crushed tomatoes and sugar. She melts butter, then adds flour and whisks it into a paste. Next, she adds warm milk, nutmeg and egg yolks, stirring until the sauce thickens.
Using a pan prepared by greasing and coating it with breadcrumbs, she layers in potatoes, eggplant, meat and cheese, repeating the layers, then topping with the sauce and more cheese. She bakes it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the sauce turns a golden brown. Before serving it, she lets the dish cool for 15-20 minutes.