Greece's answer to lasagne features a rich, cinnamon-spiked meat sauce, layers of eggplant and a generous topping of bechamel. Usually, it's made with mince but we're raising the bar and making it with shredded lamb shoulder and roasting pan drippings.
750g medium to large eggplant, sliced into 1cm thick rounds (skin on)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Moussaka meat sauce
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, brown, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ cup dry red wine
400g canned crushed tomato
1 tbsp honey
2 bay leaves, fresh (or 1 dried)
½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup lamb stock, reserved from 12-hour slow-roasted lamb shoulder pan drippings
Greek bechamel sauce
400ml (1⅔ cups) milk, warm
40g butter, unsalted
40g (¼ cup) flour
1 pinch nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
50g finely grated kefalotyri cheese*
1 egg yolk
30g finely grated kefalotyri cheese* for topping
1. To prepare eggplants, place a layer of slices in a large colander, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with salt. Place a second layer on top and repeat with remaining eggplant.
2. Set aside for 30 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels or clean tea towels. Be sure to do this well, otherwise the eggplant is too salty.
3. Preheat oven to 240C fan-forced (260C conventional), or as high as it will go.
4. Place eggplant on 2 oven trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until eggplant is lightly browned and softened. The eggplant on the bottom tray may need a few more minutes.
5. To make the meat sauce, heat olive oil in a large heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 3 minutes until soft. Add lamb, cook for 2-3 minutes until it begins to brown.
6. Add red wine, cook for 3 minutes until mostly evaporated, then add the remaining ingredients except the lamb stock. Stir well, bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Add the lamb stock, stir and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes until liquid reduces and it becomes a thick mixture. Moussaka meat sauce should be thick enough to hold its shape when slices are cut. Cover and keep warm.
8. To make the Greek bechamel, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
9. While stirring, slowly add half the milk. Once the flour paste has dissolved into the milk (it should thicken fairly quickly), add the remaining milk. Use a whisk to remove lumps if needed. Stir every now and then for the first couple of minutes, then regularly as the milk heats up to prevent the base from catching. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, and allow you to draw a path across it with your finger.
10. Remove from the stove and whisk in cheese, nutmeg and salt.
11. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then whisk the yolk in. Cover with lid until required.
12. To assemble the moussaka, preheat oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).
13. Place half the eggplant in the base of a 2-2.5 litre baking dish, overlapping slightly. Spread over meat sauce, smooth surface, then top with remaining eggplant.
14. Pour over bechamel sauce and top with grated cheese.
15. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden.
16. Remove from the oven and allow it to stand for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces.
*Kefalotyri cheese is a hard sheep or goat's milk cheese. Substitute with parmesan or pecorino romano.