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The Pam Challenge Part 2: Moussaka

Last week I challenged PAM to handle my drop dead delicious pumpkin molasses cupcakes and they passed the test with flying colors.  This week we’re switching venues and trying our luck with my Pyrex bakeware.  I’m bringing my lamb loaded, Greek loving, stick to the ribs and hopefully not the dish, Moussaka to the competition.

Lamb is one of those meats that brings back family memories every time I eat it.  When I was a child, my grandmother would roast a leg of lamb for every special occasion (with the exception of Thanksgiving of course).  She had it down to a tee and I can still remember the amazing smell that would drift through the kitchen as dinner time approached.  It was always served up with a little mint jelly and a hearty helping of rosemary red potatoes on the side.  Little did she know, she was instilling a culinary memory that won’t soon be forgotten.

In this traditional recipe, ground lamb, eggplant, and bechamel combine together to create a flavor that is so inspired I promise you’ll be heading back for seconds.  Start out by peeling and slicing your eggplant.  To slice it you’ll cut the vegetable in half and then cut 1/2″ slices from each piece.  Salt them generously and lay them on a lightly greased baking sheet to rest for about 25 minutes.

Once they’ve sufficiently rested, you’ll heat up your oven to 425 degrees and slide them in for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned, flipping over once halfway through.

While they’re resting and cooking, let’s take a few minutes to prepare the meat sauce.  Start out by browning up that gorgeous ground lamb.  When the lamb is cooked about halfway through, you’ll add in an onion, some garlic, and a few spices.

Drop the heat down a hair and add in a little lemon juice, some tomatoes, a splash of beef broth and some salt and pepper.

Stir it all together and let it warm through.  Turn it down to a simmer and cover it up while we get to work on the bechamel.

Grab one more pan and add a slab of butter and an equal amount of flour.

Mix it together and let it cook on medium heat for a good ten minutes until the butter turns that beautiful nutty brown color and the smell has you practically grabbing for a spoon right then and there.  Note that it’s not necessary to brown the roux if you’re in a hurry, but if you can make the time sacrifice, I promise it will be worth it on the back end.  Check out that beautiful golden brown roux.

Turn the heat down a notch, pour in a hearty cupful of milk, and stir it up until it’s nice and smooth.  Finally, add in a smattering of Parmesan cheese and a pinch of nutmeg and salt.  De-lish.

Let’s assemble this Greek divinity shall we?  Begin with a quick spray of Pam.

And in case you’re scratching your head over my ground lamb vs. leg of lamb confusion in the video, my grandmother cooked leg of lamb when we were younger, not ground lamb.  Blame it on the large number of kids in my possesion paired with a way too small cup of coffee this morning.

Layer up the dish with meat followed by eggplant and repeat until none remains.

End the whole layering game with a hearty pour of the cheese sauce over the top.  I can see the finish line on this meal and it’s looking mighty scrumptious if I do say so myself.

Time to cook it up.  Scooch the finished dish into the oven and let it cook up for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown.  For a quick meal, you can also assemble earlier in the day and then place it in the fridge, covered, until you are ready to cook it up and a later time.  I made this one while Drew was napping and then threw it in the oven later that evening after we got home from running around.

Doesn’t that look amazing?  And while a video of the finished product does exist, there were babies crying in the background, moussaka sliding off of spatulas to unknown places and hungry kids asking when I was going to be done so I decided to scrap it.  Instead I offer you up this lovely picture of a dish that basically needed to be rinsed off and put away it was so clean.

Not even the edges of the cheese topping stuck to the dish.

I officially have a new family member and her name is Pam.  She and I are now officially signing off to enjoy a slice of moussaka and minimal kitchen clean up.

Moussaka

Total Time: 1 hour 15 min

Ingredients:

For the Filling:

2 Eggplants
1 Pound Ground Lamb
1 Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 Lemon, Juiced
1 14.5 Oz. Can Diced Tomatoes
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup Beef Broth
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

For the Bechamel Sauce:

4 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Flour
1 3/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Nutmeg

Directions:

Peel, half, and cut the eggplants into 1/2" thick slices. Salt them generously on both sides and set them aside on a lightly greased baking sheet for 25 minutes.

After they've rested, place the eggplant slices in an oven preheated to 425 degrees for about 30 minutes to brown, flipping once halfway through.

Grab a frying pan and cook up the lamb on medium high heat.

When the lamb is halfway cooked, add in the onion and the garlic. Cook until no pink remains.

Turn the heat down to medium and add in the oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Add the lemon juice, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, salt and pepper.

Mix well and turn the heat down to simmer. Cover.

Grab up a separate pan and add in the butter and flour on medium heat.

Cook it up for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the butter browns and takes on a nutty smell.

Add in the milk and stir until smooth.

Add in the cheese, salt, and nutmeg. Stir until smooth.

Lightly spray your dish with Pam.

Add a splash of the meat mixture and then layer with eggplant slices.

Follow with a generous helping of the meat mixture.

Alternate layers until all the eggplant and meat is gone.

Pour the cheese sauce over the top and smooth out.

Place the dish into an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the top is bubbly and browned.

Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing so the moussaka can set.

Note:  I am working with Edelman to help test out their new and improved PAM cooking spray and am being compensated for my time.  As always, all opinions are strictly my own.