We purchased a whole grass fed lamb recently and have a lot of meat stored in our deep chest freezer. This is great because that means I rarely have to go to the supermarket – I just look in my freezer and decide what cut of meat I want to whip up for dinner. So this means I have had to experiment with new recipes for all things lamb. I think the ground lamb really makes the dish so I would not substitute with anything else. This turned out so well I had to post it! And guess what? My husband says this is the best dish I have ever made – and those that know him will give this a lot of weight. This is a great end of summer / beginning of Fall recipe because it is hearty but still uses summer vegetables like eggplant and tomatoes. This also freezes well so it is a great make ahead dish.
1 lb. ground lamb
2 lbs. eggplant, peeled and sliced about 1/4 thick
1 onion, diced
1 quart diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any mild cheese like colby or jack)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried dill
2 cups milk
1 ounce butter (about 2 tbsp)
1 ounce all purpose unbleached flour (about 2 tbsp)
nutmeg and salt to taste
Sprinkle eggplant with salt and let it sit for 30 min to 1 hour and then rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Fry eggplant in olive oil/coconut oil mixture until slightly brown on both sides and reserve on paper towels to drain.
In a separate skillet, Cook meat with allspice, cinnamon and salt and pepper until dry and crumbly – making sure there aren’t any big lumps. Set aside.
In a saute pan, cook onions until translucent (about 5 min) with a pinch of salt. Add garlic, tomatoes and chicken stock and another pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce until the sauce is thick (about 15 min) – stir a few times while cooking.
Use a small casserole dish (about 8X8 square) and begin to layer the dish – first layer 1/3 of the eggplant on the bottom, then 1/3 of the meat, then 1/3 of the sauce and continue until you have three layers of each. Cover with the cheese. Refrigerate and then make the bechamel sauce.
melt butter on low heat and then slowly add in the flour to make a roux. Cook for about 2 min on low and then remove from the heat for 30 seconds. Add in milk and stir/mix vigorously so there are not lumps. Return to heat and keep mixing until it comes to a simmer. Place halfway on the burner and let it cook on low for about 30 min. Check it every 5 min or so to remove ‘skin’ from the top and to stir with a wooden spoon to scrape any lumps from the bottom of the pan. After it is cooked then season with nutmeg and salt to taste and then remove from heat and keep stirring as it cools. You can now store this in the fridge in a bowl if you want for up to 2 days.
Top the casserole with the bechamel sauce and bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. Remove from oven and let stand for 20 min before slicing the moussaka. This is a great make ahead dish that will freeze well before the baking step – I think I will double the recipe next time! Big hit with the family tonight!
Photo credit: jules:stonesoup, on flickr