We'll get the laments over with first, if that's OK with you. I haven't been ignoring you all and believe me there's been lots of doings happening in JBug's Kitchen the likes of which you've never seen and may never if this keeps up. There's been a string of technical difficulties with Typepad and I've been unable to post, update, receive or make comments or anything else blog related for most of the past week. It's been frustrating to say the least and I apologize.
They insist the problem is fixed but I’ve been trying to write this post for the last hour and keep getting booted off so I’m giving up before I do permanent damage and blow a gasket. I’ll be back when the darn thing’s is fixed for good.
...and on we go to another day. Let's try this again! Hope you all had a wonderful Easter and as is the case with many of you I'm sure, we're still working our way through holiday leftovers. We enjoyed a lovely leg of lamb roasted the Greek method just like the one we've had here before. Marinated in all manner of good things and roasted in a hot oven until the meat is falling off the bone, it's tender, flavorful and full of great leftover possibilities.
For example, Big Guy took over the kitchen one day and perfected the fine art of pita bread making while I managed to stay the heck out of his way mumbling to myself about what I would do to him if he wrecked the Kitchen Aid. Suffice to say he didn't and served these fabulous pita sandwiches stuffed with leftover lamb thinly sliced and caramelized in a hot pan. Layered with crispy fresh butter lettuce, sliced tomato and fresh minty Tzatziki sauce, it was fabulous.
On our third night of lovely lamb, a Moussaka casserole hit the table glowing with a creamy cheesey bechamel topping. While we've made the dish several times in JBug's Kitchen, this was the first effort made with leftover roast lamb but believe me it won't be the last. Adapted from a recipe courtesy of dairygoodness.com, I spiced it up a tad with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, thyme and a few red pepper flakes and added a couple of good glugs of marsala wine because for some reason they chose not to add spices, wine and even left out the potatoes.
While their version is more simple to construct and using leftover lamb was pure genius, to be honest I'd be more inclined to go back to my old standard Nick Stellino version like the one below next time I'm craving the dish. While Dairy Goodness' version isn't baaaaad, Nick's aka JBug's is infinitely better.
Moussaka from JBug's Kitchen adapted from Mediterranean Flavors by Nick Stellino
2 1-1/2 pound eggplants
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 “ slices & patted dry
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons dried thyme
½ cup red wine
1-1/4 cups tomato sauce
1 cup beef stock
2 cups Béchamel Sauce (see below)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Peel eggplants & cut crosswise into ½ inch thick slices. Sprinkle with salt and place on layer of paper towels. Cover with another layer of towels, then with a cutting board. Place a heavy pan on top of cutting board to weight it down. Set aside for 20 – 30 minutes.
Heat oil in sauté plan until very hot. Add potatoes, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook until they are lightly browned (about 5 – 7 minutes). Remove potatoes to 9 x 13” glass casserole dish and arrange evenly on bottom of dish. Dry eggplant slices with a paper towel. Add eggplant to sauté pan in batches and cook until browned on both sides. Place one half of eggplant on top of potato layer in casserole and set other half of cooked eggplant aside for later. Sprinkle well with pepper.
To the same sauté pan, add ground lamb, and cook for 6 minutes until browned. Remove from pan & set aside. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of meat juices from pan. Add onions, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and thyme. Cook until onion is soft. Return ground lamb to the pan and add red wine. Cook until wine is reduced by half. Add tomato sauce and beef stock. Lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Top eggplant layer in casserole with meat sauce and add remaining eggplant to top, arranging evenly. Top all with béchamel sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
2 cups whole milk, warmed in microwave
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
In small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into melted butter and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. (Do not brown the roux). Pour warmed milk a little at a time into saucepan, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until sauce thickens – about 5 minutes. If you are holding béchamel for any length of time, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a “skin” from forming on the sauce.