Happy Friday ya’ll!
I’m currently planning a trip to Greece and Italy to celebrate my 40th birthday in 2018. Greece is at the top of my list for international travel. I want to eat the delicious food, soak in the sun, and view the gorgeous Cycladic architecture.
Reading blogs and watching videos about the best places to visit is so much fun, and really helps when it comes time to make decisions and book accommodations.
While I was putting together a menu for a small dinner party, I came across a recipe for Greek Moussaka on RecipeTinEats.com and thought it would be perfect as a little precursor to what I could expect while visiting Greece!
The traditional recipe calls for ground beef or minced beef, however, I had a chuck roast that I thought could work just as well (btw, it proved to be way better than what I would imagine the ground beef to be like). The recipe also called for a Bechamel sauce, which has wheat flour in it. I am currently not eating any type of flour, so I wanted to see if I could make a sauce that was similar to a Bechamel but without the flour. A few little Google searches later and discovered that an alfredo sauce was basically the same thing but didn’t call for any flour.
I used the recipe from Chef in Training, called Perfect Homemade Alfredo Sauce.
I combined both recipes above and made some substitutions, and it turned out amazing. If you want a delicious, impressive, welcome to fall type dish that happens to be low-carb, gluten-free, and absolutely amazing, I welcome you to try this!
Greek Moussaka (Prep time 40 mins, cooking time 6 hours, a dish you would want to start in the morning)
- Eggplant – 2 large, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 2-3 lb beef chuck roast
- 2 TBS oregano
- 14 oz of tomato sauce (try to find one that is sugar-free)
- 2 large cloves of garlic – minced
- 1 yellow or white onion – diced
- 1 cup chicken or beef stock
- 1 tsp each of salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves – minced
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese, plus a little for topping
- 1 egg plus one egg yolk – beaten together
Filling: Turn slow cooker or crockpot on to high and set timer for 4 hours. Place diced onion, tomato sauce, chicken stock, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper into cooker and stir. Place roast in the crockpot and cover with tomato mixture. Put the lid on and let cook for about 4 hours. Check it around 2.5 hours, and make sure it’s on track. You know your slow cooker better than me. The roast is done when it is fork tender and you can easily shred it with a fork.
Remove roast from cooker and place on a plate, let it cool for 10 minutes or so. Using two forks, shred meat, removing excess chunks of fat. Place shredded meat back in the cooker and mix well. You can let this sit for awhile to absorb the flavors and juices. I let mine sit for an hour or so while I worked on other things. There will be a lot of liquid after it’s cooked and normally if you were to just eat it as is or use with pasta that is fine, but since we are cooking this with eggplant, and it needs to be like a hearty ground beef consistency, you will need to reduce the amount of liquid. Now, you could just drain off the juices and assemble the moussaka, but I chose to simmer the meat and cook off the water. I placed about 2/3 of the meat (the remaining 1/3 of the meat was used in pasta for the kids) into a cast iron skillet (you can use any sauté pan) and simmered on med-low for about 35 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. This allowed the flavors to cook into the meat and just let the water evaporate. What was left was a very flavorful reduction of the shredded meat and tomato mixture, it was thick and amazing. I highly recommend you do this. If you were to drain off the liquid, you would lose so much flavor. But do what you want of course! Once reduced, put the meat in a separate dish and cover until you are ready to assemble. If you are not doing this step, just keep the meat in the slow cooker until you are ready to assemble.
Eggplant: Pre-heat oven to 390 degrees. Slice eggplant and sprinkle with salt, layer the slices in a large colander and let them sweat out excess water for 30 minutes. Then pat pieces dry with paper towel. Lay eggplant pieces on cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.
Sauce: Wisk the eggs together, set aside. In a large saucepan melt butter, add garlic, salt, pepper, and heavy cream and stir. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add parmesan cheese. Return to stove on low, and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is completely incorporated. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk in eggs. Set aside. Seriously this sauce on its own is amazing!!!! If you need a regular alfredo sauce, just eliminate the eggs. The eggs are there to help set everything up in this recipe.. you’ll see.
Assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place half the eggplant into a baking dish (I used the cast iron skillet, 9″). Then top with all of the beef filling, (if you didn’t reduce the meat mixture prior, then drain off as much liquid as you can before you assemble). Next, add the remaining eggplant. Pour sauce over the eggplant. Top with the remaining grated parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling. Let the moussaka sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.