How to make Moussaka like you are from Greece

If you want to make Moussaka at home, here is the recipe from Kostis Bernardis, a cook at one of the best Greek restaurants in Spain.

The moussaka -or “the musaka,” which is how we would say it if we were indeed Greeks- is one of the most famous dishes in Hellenic gastronomy and also one of the most abused. It’s hard to find places where it’s perfect, even in Greece itself: what in theory should be a delight, with its layers of eggplant, potato, minced meat, and au gratin béchamel, too many times becomes a pastorra that oozes fat and feels worse than a dictatorship of colonels.

There is a Greek restaurant in Barcelona’s Raval where moussaka is good: Η τρελή ροδιά (El Magraner Boig). Its chef, Kostis Bernardis, taught us to prepare a canonical version but not too heavy. He discovered that there is a similar debate with this dish in his country to that of onion in a potato omelet.

Ingredients

For 6-8 people

  • 1/2 kilo of potatoes approximately
  • 1/2 kilo of aubergines approximately
  • 80 g semi-cured cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Ragout
  • 750 g of minced beef
  • 250 g onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 200 g of crushed tomato
  • A tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 3 grams nutmeg
  • 3 grams black pepper
  • 60 grams of olive oil
  • 6 grams of salt
  • bechamel
  • 1-liter milk
  • 125 g of flour
  • 125g butter
  • 5 g of salt
  • 2 g of nutmeg

Preparation

  1. Cut potatoes into one cm slices and aubergines into 1.5 cm slices, in the amount necessary to put a layer of each in a 25 x 32 cm baking dish.
  2. In two frying pans (or in one, first the potatoes and then the aubergines), brown them over medium heat with a splash of oil until they are half done, turning them from time to time. When removing them, put them on kitchen paper to remove excess fat (in the case of aubergines, they can be pressed on top with more kitchen paper to degrease them to the maximum).
  3. In a saucepan, heat half the olive oil of the ragout over high heat. Brown the minced meat by shredding it with a spoon. Take it out and set it aside.
  4. In the same casserole, put the rest of the olive oil and fry the onion with the garlic over medium heat.
    When the onion is poached, add the reserved minced meat, the crushed tomato, the concentrated tomato, the nutmeg, the black pepper, the salt, and 150 ml of water. Cook for 40 minutes over low heat, adding some water if it remains dry.
  5. While the ragout is cooking, heat the béchamel milk with salt and nutmeg without bringing it to a boil.
    Put the flour with the butter in a saucepan over the fire, and when it has dissolved, cook for 3 minutes, stirring all the time.
  6. Add the hot milk little by a little while stirring.
  7. When the ragout is ready, scoop out the excess olive oil so that the moussaka comes out lighter.
    Heat on the oven or at 220 degrees.
  8. Assemble the moussaka in the baking dish in four layers: first, one of the potatoes; later, one of the aubergines; then a layer of ragout, and finally, béchamel.
  9. Bake the moussaka for about 30 minutes.
  10. Grate the cheese.
  11. When you see the first brown point in the béchamel, remove it and spread the cheese on top—Bake for 10 more minutes.
  12. Let stand to warm up a bit and serve.

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