October 1, 2008

My grandma's moussaka - Musaca, reteta bunicii mele

About two weeks ago, i made moussaka. Almost at the same time when Bea posted her wonderful vacation journal and pictures from Crete, including the moussaka she made back home in France with her mom.
Off course her pictures are amazing, and her moussaka looks so good and tempting, that if i wouldn't have made it myself a couple of days before, for sure i would have made it after looking at hers.
So, i decided to go ahead posting this and not feel bad about the inferiority of my pictures (not that we have the same visitors anyway on our blogs, ahem...).
My grandma from my dad's side has some balcanic roots in her family, and maybe that's why her moussaka and baclava were always so good, but then again, everything Maia made was excelent.
My grandma's moussaka is made with beef, and that's how i had it all the time in Romania, nobody it made it with lamb (i don't know if now you could find lamb meat in the supermarkets any time, but before i moved here, the only time when you found lamb was Easter time). As a matter of fact, until about 10 years ago, i didn't even know that the original Greek recipes call for ground lamb meat. I didn't know about the eggplant, i thought that adding grilled eggplant or zucchinis was just another version.
You see, the recipe that Maia has is different. She uses thin slices of potatoes, which she fries only for about a minute, until they are light golden. The meat mixture is mixed with tomato sauce, sour cream and eggs, and then on top she added either a bechamel sauce, or just some eggs beaten with cream and cheese to have a nice golden top.
That's how i learnt to make it when i left to college and moved away from home, and only sometimes i add a layer of grilled zucchini or eggplant, but otherwise it's pretty much Maia's original recipe.

That doesn't mean that i don't like the traditional Greek lamb recipe, because i really do. I had it here at the Greek taverna accross the street from St. Sophia Cathedral, and also at the Greek festival that the church has each September. They make it with mashed potatoes, eggplant and lamb, wonderful rich bechamel sauce, all blended together with the smell of oregano...
The only change i brought to Maia's recipe this time is that i didn't fry the potatoes, but i blanched them in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. I was trying to cut down the grease and fat, and i think it worked just fine.
Next time, i'll try maybe a recipe closer to the Greek one, but it will still be made with beef instead of lamb, because my dear ones from home, would not have ground lamb in anything else but meatballs with a yogurt sauce and pita bread, and that's another post to come.
Maia's Moussaka recipe
8-10 potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1- 1.5 pounds ground beef
1 onion diced
2 garlic cloves chopped
250 ml ( ab 8 oz) crushed tomatoes (canned)
1 teaspoon dried thyme or summer savory
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 eggs beaten (divided - half for the meat sauce, half to pour on top)
2 tablespoons cream or half-and-half
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
For the meat sauce: Saute the onion in sunflower oil until translucent, then add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, and after about a minute, the meat, crumbled. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until it is all browned.
Add the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, the crushed tomatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Let it cool down, then add the sourcream and half of the beaten eggs.
In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the potatoes for only about 2-3 minutes. ( You could also fry the potatoes, or prepare your favorite mashed ones and use those for the layers in this moussaka. As you see we are not so close to the traditional recipe anyway, so one more change is not going to kill anybody, right?)
In a buttered dish, arrange a layer of potatoes ( use 1/3 of them for each layer) on the bottom, then add half of the meat sauce, followed by the second layer of potatoes, the rest of the meat sauce and last the rest of potatoes. On top, pour the sauce made from the second half of the beaten eggs, mixed with the cream and parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350F (170C) for about 40-60 minutes, until the top is golden.
It is great with a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions, or pickles. And the leftovers are just as good as the first serving.


Musaca - reteta bunicii mele
8-10 cartofi taiati felii, fierti
500 gr carne tocata
250 sos de rosii
o ceapa tocata marunt
2 catei de usturoi tocati
2 linguri smantana
o lingurita cimbru uscat
o lingurita oregano uscat
sare si piper
3 oua batute (jumatate se folosesc la sosul de carne, jumatate se toarna deasupra pt. gratinat)
2 linguri smantana dulce
3 linguri parmesan ras

Sosul de carne: se prajeste ceapa si usturoiul putin, apoi se adauga carnea, sarea, piperul, oregano si cimbrul uscat si se prajesc 8-10 minute, pana s-a facut maronie. Se adauga sucul de rosii si se lasa sa fiarba sosul la foc mic timp de 15-20 minute. Se da la o parte si cand s-a racit putin se adauga smantana si jumatate din ouale batute.
Intre timp se fierb cartofii taiati felii timp de 2-3 minute in apa sarata. Se scurg bine si se aseaza intr-un vas uns cu unt, un strat de cartofi (1/3 din ei), apoi un strat de sos de carne, iar un strat de cartofi, restul de carne si se termina cu ultima treime din cartofi. Deasupra se toarna restul de oua amestecate bine cu smantana si parmesan.
Se pune la cuptor la foc mediu timp de 40-60 de minute, pana sosul de deasupra devine auriu.


Lola said...

musacaua este intr-adevar de 2 feluri: cu cartofi si cu vanata. eu n-am auzit sa fie folosite impreuna, ci ori una ori alta.
in ro si noi faceam cu vita pentru ca mielul era greu de gasit daca nu era in jurul pastelui, dar adevarul este ca e mai gustoasa cu miel. si te asigur ca daca faci o data cu miel, cei dragi ai tai nu-si vor da seama :)
si mai cred ca nici un restaurant nu va face o musaca asa buna cum iese acasa - nici la greci.

roxana said...

Lola, am incercat cu mielul, dar n-a mers. Cred ca e putin mai grea, poate de aia? Mie poti sa-mi dai miel si de 3 ori pe saptamana, nu m-as plange, dar "nobilii" mei, alta poveste...Cat despre miros, ai dreptate, imi place asa mult cum miroase in casa cand se coace musacaua in cuptor.