Here is the by now famous moussaka recipe that so many people asked for after seeing me make it on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
For 10 – 12 servings
3-4 tbs. olive oil
3 large red onions, finely chopped
1 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 lbs. ground beef or combination of ground beef and lamb
2 cups chopped, plum tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tbs. unsalted butter
6 tbsp. flour
7 cups milk
Salt and pinch of white pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
2 egg yolks
½ cup fresh Greek anthotyro (or ricotta), drained
½ cup grated kefalotyri cheese
Olive oil for frying
2 -3 large eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into one-eighth inch slices
2 large zucchini, trimmed and sliced on the bias into large ovals, one-eighth inch thick
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch slices, lengthwise, kept in a bowl of water to keep from oxidizing
1 – ½ cups canned chopped tomatoes, drained
Prepare meat sauce: Heat olive oil in a large, wide pot and sauté onions until soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until the mushrooms are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the meat, reduce heat, and stir until meat takes on some color, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spices, wine, salt, and pepper. Raise heat slightly, bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, until the sauce is thick. Sauce may be prepared 1 – 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated. You may need to add a little water to the sauce in the beginning, so that there is enough liquid to bring to a boil.
Prepare béchamel: Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. When it melts and is bubbly, add the flour. Whisk until the flour begins to turn light golden. Be careful not to color too much. Pour in the milk and whisk until thick. This might take around 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and vigorously whisk the yolks into the hot béchamel. Add the cheeses and whisk until smooth. Set aside, covered with a kitchen towel to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the sauce. May be made several hours ahead, reheated and thinned as needed.
Vegetables: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the eggplants in one layer on an oiled sheet pan. Brush the top with olive oil. . It is best to use sheet pans with a perforated rack, to let steam circulate around the vegetables as they bake. Bake until soft, about 12 minutes. Remove. Repeat with remaining eggplants slices until all are cooked to tender but al dente. They should not fall apart.
In a large, heavy, nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the zucchini slices, turning once. Do this in batches if necessary and replenish the oil as needed. Remove and blot dry on paper towels.
Remove the potatoes from the water and blot dry with paper towels. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and sauté the potatoes over medium heat for a few minutes, just to soften but not to color. You will need to do this in batches. Set aside on platters lined with paper towels. Preheat oven to 350F.
Assemble the moussaka: Spread about 3 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom of a large, deep baking pan (we use hotel pans at the restaurant). Spoon the crushed tomatoes on the bottom of the pan. Place the potato slices in a single layer over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Place a layer of eggplant on top and season lightly with salt and pepper,
Mix 6 tablespoons of the béchamel into the meat sauce.
Spread about a third of the meat sauce over the eggplant slices. Spread a layer of zucchini, seasoned with salt and pepper, then a layer of meat sauce. Finish with a layer of eggplant slices, salt and pepper, and the last of the meat sauce, spread evenly on top. Pour the béchamel over the top, spreading it evenly with a spatula. If the béchamel is cold from having been made in advance and refrigerated, warm it slightly and loosen it up with a little additional milk, if necessary. Bake the moussaka uncovered for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the béchamel is set and lightly golden. Remove, cool, and cut into serving pieces.