there are some recipes which i’ve been cooking “forever” and therefore always know where to start when i’m making them. other dishes, despite me making them regularly, just don’t seem to have that same instinctive nature to them. for me, moussaka fits into the latter category. i always link it to lamb mince, aubergine and a white sauce, but that’s it.
the good thing about this is that it means i drag out my cook books, look at recipes online and as a result, often learn something new. and i learnt quite a lot from cooking this, using a tessa kiros recipe from the cypriot section of falling cloudberries.
first was that lamb is not the default choice of meat – she uses a mix of pork and beef. i stuck with the lamb but used her method of getting the meat sauce started by frying onion until golden and then adding garlic and chopped parsley which becomes aromatic and then you add the meat. the addition of a herb like parsley at this stage is not something i’m used to (although i do add chopped coriander stems at this stage in various dishes) and i was surprised at how the parsley flavour did not get lost and that the green fleck of the herb remained in the final sauce. the flavour was softer than if i’d added it at the end and that lack of fresh zinginess was exactly right for this dish, and is something i need to remember.
the other learning was not a new technique – it was about pre-cooking the aubergine and potato slices. tessa stipulates the need to shallow-fry both in olive oil. i stuck to my previously tried & tested healthier approach of roasting the oil-brushed slices of aubergine (c10 minutes at 180c) but did fry the potatoes, until cooked through and golden and crispy in places. as a result they were meltingly soft in the final dish which was just perfect.
in fact the whole thing was very close to perfection – the flavours melded wonderfully and the softly textured vegetables made it a wonderfully comforting dish. the one thing i will fiddle about with is the white sauce that tops everything off – a friend of mine swears by a souffléd sauce to crown her moussaka, which i really must try.