Neil Perry's moussaka with a Mexican twist

Greek meets Mexican: Moussaka with smoky chipotle.
Greek meets Mexican: Moussaka with smoky chipotle. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Kid-friendly

This is a twist on a classic, the oregano and chipotle really giving this family favourite some delicious Mexican topspin. It's always worth keeping a couple of jars of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the cupboard: they add a deep, smoky heat to just about anything. Here, they're a particularly fine complement to the mince and bechamel.

Ingredients

2 large eggplants, cut into 5mm slices

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing

2 small brown onions, finely chopped

2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 chipotle in adobo sauce, chillies pureed or finely chopped

500g minced lamb

90g tomato paste

400g can chopped tomatoes

¼ tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp caster sugar

1 large handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

40g parmesan, grated

For the bechamel sauce

50g butter

50g plain flour

500ml milk, warmed

80g parmesan, finely grated

sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Method

1. Salt the eggplant slices on both sides and set aside for 1 hour, then rinse the slices under running water and pat dry. Brush with a little olive oil and cook in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the frying pan and saute the onion and cumin over low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onion is soft before stirring in the chilli puree. Increase the heat and add the mince, stir-frying until browned. Season with salt and black pepper, add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the chopped tomato, cinnamon and sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for a few minutes more to firm slightly if necessary. Check the seasoning and remove the cinnamon stick if using one. Fold the parsley through the braise.

4. To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and grainy. Gradually pour in the warmed milk, stirring constantly, and cook until the mixture starts to boil and thicken. Stir in 80g parmesan and season to taste.

5. Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional). Layer the braised lamb and fried eggplant two or three times in a large ovenproof dish, starting and finishing with a layer of eggplant if possible – the number of layers will depend on the size and depth of your dish. Spread the bechamel over the top and sprinkle liberally with 40g parmesan.

6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the moussaka has warmed through and the top is golden. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, then serve.

If you like this recipe, try RecipeTin Eats' moussaka with shredded lamb shoulder.

Find more of Neil Perry's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.

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