Matthew Evans shares his recipe for this rich, indulgent Greek moussaka. The heady, cinnamon-spiced eggplant is covered with a creamy ricotta and kefalograviera instead of the usual béchamel sauce. The meaty dish is perfect for a warming family feast.
- 165 ml olive oil
- 2 (about 3 kg) lamb shoulders, boned (see Note), cut into 4 cm pieces
- 2 onions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250 g tomato paste
- 1 bunch oregano
- 1 bunch thyme
- 100 ml dry white wine
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 4 large (about 2 kg) eggplants, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
- 750 g fresh ricotta
- 200 g kefalograviera (see Note), grated
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Greek salad, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 1 hour
Preheat oven to 140°C. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over high heat and cook lamb, in 3 batches, turning, for 3 minutes or until browned. Transfer lamb to a bowl. Add onions to the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook for a further minute, then stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 2 minutes or until slightly coloured. Wrap herbs in muslin. (Alternatively, simply pick out the bunches after cooking.) Add herbs to pan with wine, cinnamon and 500ml water. Bring to the boil. Return the lamb to the pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bake for 2 hours or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, and roughly shred the meat.
Meanwhile, soak eggplant in water for 1 hour. Drain, then pat dry with paper towel. Heat remaining 125 ml oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook eggplant, in batches, for 3 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towel.
Increase oven to 180°C. Combine cheeses with the eggs in a bowl. When the lamb is cooked, place a layer of eggplant in the base of a 3-litre baking dish, then spread half the lamb on top. Add another layer of eggplant, then the remaining lamb. Top with remaining eggplant and spread over ricotta mixture.
Bake moussaka for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with a Greek salad.
• Ask your butcher to bone the lamb for you. It is preferable not to use pre-cut diced lamb for this recipe as it is often a mixture of leg, shoulder and offcuts, and the meat is also generally irregularly cut.
• Kefalograviera is a hard, salty, Greek sheep’s-milk cheese that’s available from selected delis and specialist food shops. Substitute Greek fetta.
As seen in Feast magazine, Mar 2012, Issue 7. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.
Photography by Alan Benson.