published Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Courters' Kitchen: Fresh lamb, potatoes, béchamel sauce elevate Moussaka

Kelly Courter prepared her moussaka by layering fried potatoes and eggplant and a tomato and lamb sauce topped with a bechamel sauce.
Kelly Courter prepared her moussaka by layering fried potatoes and eggplant and a tomato and lamb sauce topped with a bechamel sauce.
Photo by Allison Love.

BARRY SAYS: Kelley has made moussaka before, but this time was special. I'm sure she can explain why, but I'm guessing it was the fresh ingredients and the love that went into it. It was a half-day process, but the results were worth it. At least from my point of view.

The béchamel, the white sauce that topped it off, was light, airy and creamy, the lamb was delicious and the potatoes were pretty remarkable.

KELLEY SAYS: This dish is very tasty, and it is even better the next day. This recipe produces enough so that unless you have a big family of hearty eaters, there should be leftovers.

I've cheated and used boxed and dried scalloped potatoes in the past. It worked OK, but just not as good as the real deal. For this, I went the extra step and used red potatoes. It made a big difference in both flavor and texture. The difference was pretty dramatic.

The lamb came from SheerLark Farm in Flat Rock, Ala. They are at Chattanooga Market on Sundays, and I always look forward to when they have lamb. It's so good.

The sauce was not as spicy as I would have liked. Next time, I might go heavier on the spices and possibly add oregano. You could easily substitute ground beef for lamb. The sauce and the béchamel would also morph into a pastitsio.

This would be a great holiday dish to make, along with a nice Greek salad and a baklava for dessert to round out the meal.

BARRY SAYS: You can sample a few Greek specialities Thursday at the annual Greek Bake Sale at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church at 722 Glenwood Ave., across from Memorial Hospital.

Moussaka

4 large red potatoes, thinly sliced

Peanut oil

11/2 eggplants, sliced

8 egg whites, beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for frying)

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 cup grated halloumi cheese

Tomato sauce (see recipe)

2 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided

Béchamel sauce (see recipe)

Sauté potatoes in about 1/4 inch peanut oil until lightly browned. Remove slices to sheet pan to cool.

Dip eggplant slices in beaten egg whites, then fry in olive oil until golden. Remove, and place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a large, deep-dish lasagna pan. Sprinkle the bottom of pan with breadcrumbs.

Layer potatoes over breadcrumbs, then layer eggplant over potatoes.

Spread halloumi cheese over eggplant, then add tomato sauce. Add final layer of eggplant, then one cup of parmesan. Add remaining parmesan to béchamel, then spread over eggplant. Place in oven for about 45 minutes or until browned. Remove and let sit for about 20 minutes before serving. Makes 10-12 servings.

Tomato Sauce

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground lamb

1 cup red wine

4 whole allspice

4 whole cloves

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 bay leaves

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until limp. Add lamb, and cook on medium heat until browned. Deglaze with wine, and add spices, tomatoes, raisins and honey. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Remove from heat, and add parsley and pepper.

Béchamel

2 sticks butter

1 cup flour

Nutmeg, to taste

4 cups milk

8 egg yolks, beaten

Melt butter slowly; add flour and nutmeg. Add milk, and cook, stirring slowly, until sauce thickens. Remove from heat to cool. Once cooled, add beaten egg yolks.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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