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miércoles, marzo 15, 2006

Moussaka de Aglaia Kremezi


Serves: 8 to 10

This light and spicy version of the classic Greek eggplant casserole was created by Aglaia Kremezi, author of Mediterranean Hot. Instead of butter and milk, Aglaia uses olive oil and yogurt in her bechamel sauce.

Salt, place in a colander, and let drain at least 30 minutes:
2 large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds each), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices

Meanwhile, heat in a deep, heavy skillet over medium-high heat:
1 inch olive oil

Fry briefly in the oil, 2 to 3 minutes, without letting them cook through:
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices

Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon to drain. Layer the potatoes in a lightly oiled 9 x 13-inch baking dish at least 2 1/2 inches deep (or an equivalent round or oval dish). Set aside.In the same frying oil, cook over medium-high heat:
3 large green bell peppers, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces

Cook, stirring often, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon to drain. Reserve the frying oil. Measure out 1/3 cup of the oil and place in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Add and saute, stirring often, until no longer red, about 10 minutes:
1 pound ground lean lamb

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

Continue to saute, stirring often, for another 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add:
1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground red pepper
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 cup currants
1 pound ripe tomatoes, finely chopped, or 2 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes with their juice

Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with:
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout, 1062 (optional)

Remove from the heat and set aside. The mixture should be quite spicy. Preheat the broiler. Rinse and dry the eggplant slices with paper towels and place them on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with some of the reserved oil, and broil them until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Cool and discard the remaining frying oil. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Arrange the eggplant slices over the potatoes; it doesn't matter if they overlap. Spoon the lamb and tomato sauce over the eggplant and layer with the fried peppers. Pour over:

Yogurt and Olive Oil Bechamel
Serves: About 3 cups

This is a contemporary version of classic bechamel from gifted Greek cook Aglaia Kremezi.

Whisk together in a saucepan over medium heat:
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cook, whisking, for about 1 minute until the mixture starts to froth. Remove from the heat, whisk for a couple of minutes, then pour in, whisking constantly:
2 cups cold whole milk

Whisk in:
1 cup whole-milk yogurt

Set over the heat and, whisking, bring to a boil to thicken. The mixture may look curdled, but it will smooth out once it has boiled and thickened. Stir in:
2/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Sea salt to taste
Pinch of ground black or white pepper

Bake for about 1 hour, until the top starts to color and the moussaka is bubbly. Let the moussaka sit for 15 minutes before serving, or let cool completely, refrigerate, and reheat just before serving. To reheat, place in a preheated 400 °F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until bubbly.


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