This month over at Food n Flix we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a romantic comedy which I hope you’ve seen! My Big Fat Greek Wedding is actually one of the few movies I’ve seen more than once. When I was rewatching the movie to decide what to make for this month’s Food n Flix submission my boyfriend was confused at why I would laugh before anything funny would happen. But that was because I kept hearing the funny lines in my head right before they were said. So I would preemptively laugh.
I had a long list of inspirations by the time the movie was over. I decided to be traditional though and make a moussaka.
In the movie there’s a flashback to Toula as a girl in elementary school. She was sitting at one table in the cafeteria and the girls behind her made a comment about what she was eating. Toula responded that it was moussaka. The mean little blonde girls squealed, “Moose kaka?!!??”
I also new I needed to use lamb in this dish to hit the nail on the head because “You’re a vegetarian. That’s ok, I’ll make lamb.”
Finding lamb however was not an easy task. Apparently my grocery store doesn’t carry it – only the commonly used beef, poultry, and pork. I almost decided to make a ground beef version of the moussaka, but I really needed the lamb if I wanted to make this a true “vegetarian” dish.
I googled around and found that this place in Sacramento (where I live) called Mediterranean Market sold ground lamb. On the Saturday I made this dish I jumped in the car and found this cute little market, which was full of grape leaves, kabobs, falafel mix, hookah supplies, and lamb! The butcher ground the lamb for me there on the spot and I was on my way with my lamb (and the falafel mix that I picked up too.)
This wasn’t exactly an easy dish, so it was good I picked a weekend to make it. It was definitely time consuming, but the product that came out in the end made it worth it. It’s kind of silly I made moussaka, because eggplant is not my favorite vegetable in the world (which I’ve said before.) This preparation of the eggplant though was great, so I think I might be slowly drifting to Team-Eggplant instead of Team-Eggplant-Is-Gross.
Anyway, the one real lesson I learned from the movie is to put Windex on every ailment. I couldn’t really show that to you guys in food style though.
Thanks to Kahakai Kitchen for hosting this month’s Foon n Flix! If you want to enter a dish for this month’s movie you have until the 27th of February.
2 1/2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup milk
Nutmeg to taste
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 eggplants
1 large potato
salt to taste
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 lb ground lamb
1 cup tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
pinch of allspice
ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp dry red wine
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1. Make the cheese sauce first. To make it heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir well, making sure to get rid of all dry clumps. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk to create a smooth sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, letting simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Once thickened remove from heat. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper. In another bowl whisk together the egg yolks. Add a bit of the hot sauce mixture to the yolks, stirring well. Combine the rest of the yolks with the sauce. Stir in the cheese and blend well. Keep warm and set aside.
3. Place potatoes in a pot. Add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Once the potatoes are tender, remove from the heat and drain them. Once cool slice into 1/8-inch slices and set aside.
4. Peel the eggplants and slice into 1/8-inch slices. Heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil until hot. Add the eggplant to the oil and cook a few pieces of eggplant at a time, until tender and lightly colored about 3 minutes. Transfer to a rack and set aside.
5. Next prepare your meat sauce. Heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat, for about 10-12 minutes until tender. Add the ground lamb and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, garlic, cloves, bay leaf, allspice, salt, pepper and water. Simmer until thick, about 30 minutes. Add tomato paste and red wine and continue simmering for 10 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7. To assemble the moussaka, scatter the breadcrumbs in a deep baking dish. Place a layer of half of the eggplant slices over the breadcrumbs. Add the meat sauce and spread it in an even layer. Top with a layer of potatoes. Then create a layer of eggplant with the remaining slices. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top.
8. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the moussaka from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes before serving.