By Katherine Gaetanos
(From Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church cookbook, A Taste of St. Augustine, Florida)
1 ½ lb. ground chuck
1 stick butter, divided
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 C. tomato puree
½ bay leaf
1 whole allspice
½ C. parsley, chopped fine
2 large eggplant
2 large baking potatoes
1 C. Parmesan cheese, grated
½ C. plain dry breadcrumbs
In a large frying pan, cook onion and garlic in 3 tbsp. water until water evaporates. Add 2 tbsp. butter and cook until onion is transparent. Add meat. Using a heavy fork, mix while cooking until mixture becomes lightly browned. Stir in tomato puree, parsley, bay leaf, allspice, salt, pepper and ½ to ¾ C. water. Cook until sauce is reduced by half. Remove bay leaf and allspice. Set aside.
Peel and slice eggplant (1/2” thickness), salt and strain in a colander for 15-20 minutes. Peel and slice potatoes (1/2” thickness). Pat eggplant slices dry with paper towels. Brown potato slices lightly in hot oil and drain. Dredge eggplant slices in flour and brown lightly in oil. Drain well on paper towels.
Separate 2 eggs; set yolks aside. Beat whites until frothy; stir into slightly cooled meat sauce; add ¼ C. of dry breadcrumbs and ¼ C. cheese. Sauce should be fluffy, not runny.
Butter bottom and sides of a 9 x 12 x 2 inch pan. Layer potatoes, overlapping slightly to completely cover the bottom. Sprinkle potatoes with breadcrumbs, cheese and half the meat sauce. Layer half the eggplant slices over meat sauce, overlapping slightly; sprinkle with breadcrumbs, cheese and remaining meat sauce. Add a final layer of eggplant.
Béchamel Sauce: Heat milk until warm; beat 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg well in a small bowl. In a heavy saucepan, melt remaining 4 tbsp. butter; whisk in ½ C. flour, stirring constantly to incorporate. Gradually add milk and cook over medium heat until sauce thickens. Remove from heat; gradually add beaten eggs to sauce. Return to low heat; cook for a few minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, add remaining cheese, salt and white pepper to taste and spread evenly over casserole.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until top is golden brown. Cool 20 minutes before cutting into squares.
Moussaka freezes very well. Thaw and heat in a slow oven. Always serve warm, not hot. Serves 8 – 10.