I originally set out to make Moussaka but since I didn’t have any eggplant on hand, I decided to substitute potatoes for the eggplant. It turned out pretty good. After doing a little research, I discovered that this dish is made in Eastern Europe with potatoes and it can have either eggplant or potatoes or both. I love flexibility!
4-5 large potatoes (1.5 lbs)
1.5 lbs. ground lamb (you can use beef but it’s not the same)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
0.25 tsp. ground allspice
1.5 cup tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more, sometimes I use a mixture of different cheese I have on hand)
6 Tbsp salted butter
6 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk, warmed
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Peel the potatoes and cut them in half so they cook faster. Boil them in water for about 15-20 minutes – they should be just barely done (still firm).
Drain, cool and slice them in 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
Make the Meat Filling:
Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a large sauté pan. Add onion, garlic and meat. Meat should be cooked through with no pink.
Add wine to pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes.
Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for approximately 30 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Melt butter over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.
Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.
Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.
Add a little to the egg yolks and whisk to mix.
Add the mixture back into the sauce and mix well.
Add a pinch of nutmeg.
Stir until sauce thickens.
Lightly grease large casserole dish.
Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom.
Top with a layer of meat sauce.
Spoon over 1/3 of the sauce.
Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.
Top with remaining cheese.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until cheese is a nice golden brown color.