Growing up, moussaka with a favourite in our home. The aroma of sweet eggplants shallow frying in olive oil with potatoes was enough to put a smile on my face knowing what meal lay ahead. Mum used a mix of lamb and beef mince, but with this recipe I have opted for slow cooked lamb shoulder.
This is a melt in your mouth homage to the humble pie where Greek meets Aussie. #BringBackTheClassics
- 2 large eggplants, sliced lengthways into 1 cm-thick slices
- Salt, for sprinkling
- Olive oil, for shallow frying
- 4 large potatoes, cut lengthways into 5 mm-thick slices
- 3 sheets ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
- 3 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry
- 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
- 130 g (1 cup) grated Kefalograviera cheese
- 2½ tbsp plain flour
- 500 ml (2 cups) reduced chicken stock (or use beef for a more robust flavour or vegetable for something lighter)
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 kg piece boneless lamb shoulder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 750 ml (3 cups) tomato passata
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 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.
You will need six 12 cm round and 5cm deep non-stick mini pie tins.
1. For the slow cooked lamb, place the paprika, dried herbs and salt in a bowl and combine well. Rub the mixture all over the lamb shoulder.
2. Place the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until soft. Increase the heat to medium, add the lamb and cook until browned on all sides. Reduce the heat to as low as possible, add the passata, rosemary and 500 ml (2 cups) water and stir to combine. Cover with a lid and cook, turning the lamb every 30 minutes for 3½ -4 hours or until the meat falls apart and you can shred it.
3. Meanwhile, sprinkle the eggplant slices liberally with salt and stand in a colander for 20 minute before pat drying.
4. Fill a large frying pan 3 cm deep with olive oil and place over low-medium heat. When hot, cook the eggplant, in batches until golden on both sides. Place on a large tray lined with paper towel and cover with more paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Shallow fry the potato in batches until light golden on both sides, then drain on paper towel-lined trays in the same way.
5. Once the lamb is cooked, remove the meat from the pan, reserving the cooking liquid. Using 2 forks, shred the meat, then set aside to cool slightly.
6. Preheat the oven to 210˚C.
7. Thaw the frozen pastry sheets. Cut the shortcrust pastry sheets in half diagonally and line the base and sides of the pie tins, leaving the sides overhanging. Brush the edges with a little beaten egg.
8. Place a little shredded lamb on the base of each tin, then top with 2 slices of potato and 1-2 slices of eggplant, depending on the size. Scatter half the cheese over the top. Top with another layer of lamb and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. You may have leftover lamb but it’s delicious as is so won’t go to waste!
9. Cut the puff pastry in half on the diagonal and line the tops of the pies, trimming off the excess. Using a fork, press the edges to seal. Brush the tops with the remaining egg and cut a small cross in the centre of each pie to allow the steam to escape. Place the pies on a baking tray and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
10. While the pies are cooking, strain the reserved lamb cooking liquid and discard the solids. Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over low heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes. Add the stock, whisk until well combined, then simmer for 3-5 minutes, whisking regularly until smooth and thickened.
11. Season to taste. Serve the moussaka pies with the hot sauce and a lovely Greek salad.
• If you don’t want to use individual dried herbs, you can use 1½ tablespoons dried Greek herbs of your choice, but make sure you still add the paprika.
•To reduce as much oil as possible from the eggplant and potatoes, pat dry them a second time with new paper towel. I prefer less oil and it allows the other flavours to come through.
Lead illustration by Billie Justice Thomson.