28 August 2007

Hotel Grand Bretagne Moussaka

Greece is on my mind and in the news a lot lately with all the fires and human tragedy. My friends in Greece have e-mailed and are all AOK. It is so dry there this time of the year, I just hope it all works out and quickly. Usually when I find myself thinking of Greece I am remembering my sojourn last Spring...sipping raki, dancing to the strains of bazouka with new found friends hiking through small untouched Zagorian villages and eating very, very well....

Athens is the epicentre. A visit to Athens must include at least a walk through the Hotel Grand Bretange on Syntagma Square near the Parliament Buildings. It was built in 1842 and has been restored to its original grandeur. The best moussaka I tried in Greece was in Metsovo in Epirus (not to say it is the best anywhere) because I only tried it there. It came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. Since I do not have their recipe, or, a Greek grandmother whose recipe has been passed down for generations, this is a good substitution from the Hotel Grand Bretange. It includes a layer of potatoes like the one I tasted and has an addition of cheeses.

There is good moussaka and then there are the others.... My daughter tried one of the others our first day in Santorini and has been ruined for life. If you have ever had a bad moussaka I urge you to give it another try!!! You will be glad you did!!!

Photo was taken of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

**Hotel Grand Bretagne Moussaka**

6 large Yukon Gold potatoes (2-1/2 lbs)
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded kefalograviera or Gruyere cheese

Bolognese Sauce:

2 lb lean ground lamb or beef
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allpsice
1 can (28-oz) tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 can (5-1/2-oz) tomato paste

Bechamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk (hot)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch grated nutmeg

Bolognese Sauce: in shallow Dutch oven, saute lamb over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Drain fat from pan. Add onions, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, salt, pepper, allspice to pan; fry over medium heat until onion is softened about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, mashing to break into small pieces. Add wine and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until space does not fill in after spoon is drawn across bottom of pan, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile peel potatoes and eggplant; cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange in single layer on parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheets. Brush both sides with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in 450F oven, turning once until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce: Meanwhile, in saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour and stir until mixture is well blended. Gradually stir in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to boil and thickens. Simmer, stirring frequently, over very low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little nutmeg, if desired.

To assemble: Spread 1 cup of the Bolognese Sauce in 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish. Layer half of the potatoes, 2 cups of the Bolognese sauce, all of the eggplant, 2 cups of the Bolognese sauce, remaining potatoes and remaining Bolognese sauce. Spread bechamel sauce over top. (Make ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold; cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Add 40 minutes to baking time).

Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in 350F oven until browned and bubbly, about 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes; cut into squares.

Serves 10 - 12

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  1. I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Greece - it's at the top of my list! I've traveled quite a bit, but it's just not once place I've hit yet...

    We have a lot of Greek-owned restaurants in our area; there must be a large Greek population here. So finding good Greek food isn't hard - plus there's the big Greek festival every year!

  2. What an interesting sounding dish! I have never had it but the layering is what is catching me and the variety of flavors together. Sounds like a good comfort dish to me.
    Cool photo! I know your trip to Greece had to be awesome! My great trips to Australia and France were the years before digital became an option. But I do have tons of film photos thank goodness.

  3. I just tried making Moussaka a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. I will have to try adding potatoes the next time I make it.


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