Moussaka

I’m currently reading The Bellini Card, by Jason Goodwin.  If you are not familiar with the series, I suggest you pick one up, especially if you enjoy cooking, foreign culture, and history. Our hero, Yashim, is in Venice in 1840. And, at one point, he makes Turkish Moussaka for a Venetian family – “lasagna without noodles.”

Having the house all to myself for the next three days, I thought I’d do a bit of baking. And since the moussaka sounded good, exotic, and filling, I did a bit of research and created my own:

Moussaka a la Turque

4 small Italian eggplants
1 1/2 large white onions
4-6 large cloves of garlic
1 lb. ground lamb
1/2 c. chopped Italian parsley
3 chopped medium-sized tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1-2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 eggs
2 c. goat milk yogurt
Aleppo pepper

Heat broiler.

Peel eggplants, slice about 1/2 inch thick. In large bowl of salted water, place peeled, sliced eggplants, and let soak for about 30 minutes (while you do some other things).

Chop onion and garlic together, very fine. Place in 10-12 inch frying pan, saute until golden in 3 T. olive oil. Add ground lamb, and continue to cook, stirring the lamb-onion-garlic mixture to brown the meat. When meat is browned, add parsley, tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, and about 1/4 – 1/2 c. water. Continue to cook over medium heat to make a thick sauce.

While meat is cooking, mix together eggs, yogurt, and aleppo pepper. Let sit. Add pinch of salt if desired.

Drain eggplant slices, squeeze, and set out on paper towels, pat dry. Lightly grease cookie sheet, and in one layer, place sliced eggplant. Spray with oil, or lighly brush slices with oil. Broil until slices are lightly browned, about 5 mins. Turn over, coat with oil, and repeat. Remove from oven.

Drop oven to 375 degrees F.

In 9 x 9 glass pan, place ground meat mixture. Cover with eggplant slices. Pour yogurt-egg mixture on top. Clean up the kitchen, letting the yogurt-egg mixture settle over meat and eggplant.

Bake for 40 minutes, until top is nicely browned. Cool about 15 minutes. Serve with salad.

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