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Healthier Mousakka




Healthier Mousakka

Ingredient

·      900g beef mince
·      2 medium red onions, finely chopped
·      6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·      4 salad tomatoes, chopped
·      1 can chopped tomatoes
·      1 tablespoon tomato puree
·      2 teaspoons dried oregano
·      1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
·      1 bayleaf
·      salt and pepper to season
·      1 tablespoon olive oil
·      2 large/3 medium aubergines
·      2 large baking potatoes, peeled and left whole

For the béchamel sauce:

·      65g unsalted butter
·      65g flour
·      700ml milk
·      1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·      Salt and pepper to seas
·      60 grams parmesan or grana panado
·      2 eggs, whisked.


Method:

1.    Heat the oven to 180c. Slice the aubergines lengthways around 3/4 cm in thickness. Place on trays lined with foil which has been greased with a little of the olive oil, and brush the tops of the aubergines with a little more oil. Bake in the oven for around 20--25 minutes until golden brown. When cooked, take them out and allow to cool (loosen them slightly from the foil when they are still warm).

2.  Add the peeled whole baking potatoes to a pan of boiling water, and cook for around 10 minutes. Take off the heat and sit them in cold water. When cooled. Take them out of the water, and slice thinly, around 1/2cm thick.

3.   Meanwhile, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a big non-stick pan. Add the beef mince and fry until just browned, around 5 minutes or so. Take the pan off the heat and pour the meat into a colander which has been placed in a bowl. Drain off the excess fat from the meat, and return it to the pan.

4.  Put the pan back on the heat, and add the onions. Cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes until the onions have softened, then add the fresh chopped tomatoes and garlic. Cook for a further 3 minutes then add the cinnamon and oregano, and a little freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.

5.   Add the tomato puree, bayleaf and canned chopped tomatoes, and fill the can with water. Stir everything, bring to a high simmer, then turn down the heat and cook for a further 30-40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated (make sure you keep stirring and checking the sauce so that it doesn't catch at the bottom of the pan.

6.  Now you can make your béchamel sauce. Put a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat and add the butter. Once it has melted, add the flour and stir with whisk. Once you have a paste-like roux (this should only take a few seconds), gradually add the milk, around 100ml at a time, constantly stirring (every time you add a little milk, as soon as the sauce looks like it's thickening, add a little more). Once the sauce has thickened and starts to bubble slightly, take off the heat, add the cheese, salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Put to one side to cool slightly, then very quickly whisk in the eggs. It's important that you don't add the eggs when the sauce is too hot, otherwise they could curdle.

7.   Once the meat sauce is cooked, it is time to assemble the mousakka. I used a 25cm x 35cm ovenproof glass dish, which is the perfect size and will serve 6-8 people generously (with a side salad).

8.  Grease the dish with a little butter and line the bottom of it with the sliced potato. Next, add half of the meat sauce ensuring that it is evenly spread, followed by a layer of half of the aubergines. Add the remaining meat sauce, followed by the rest of the aubergine, finishing off with a top layer of béchamel sauce.

9.  This is where my cooking process stopped until the following day - I covered the dish with clingfilm and chilled in the fridge overnight. When I was ready to cook it, I took it out of the fridge for ten minutes while the oven heated (at 200c), took off the clingfilm and covered it with foil. I cooked it in the oven with the foil for 20-25 minutes, and cooked it for a further 25-30 minutes uncovered until golden brown. If you are cooking it immediately and not the next day, then bake on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven (200c) for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.






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