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Savoury comfort food: Mini moussakas

Chrissy Dupé

“There’s just something so good about the combination of the rich tomatoey lamb, the smooth, velvety Bechamel sauce and the silky slices of eggplant that are soft and crispy all at once.”

The temperature has plummeted, and my body needs some delicious savoury comfort food. Key criteria: something rich. something hot. something covered in cheese… Bingo! Moussaka.

mini moussaka pots

I hadn’t made it in ages, and it’s one of those little gems that when you make it again after a while you wonder why the hell you don’t cook it every other day (correct: because no one wants to have to buy a kaftan to wear to work). Once I got the idea in my head I literally could not think of anything else (does this happen to other people???).

Don’t get me wrong, I love lasagne too (I mean, I’m not an idiot!), but I think I actually prefer moussaka, especially with lamb mince. There’s just something so good about the combination of the rich tomatoey lamb, the smooth, velvety Bechamel sauce and the silky slices of eggplant that are soft and crispy all at once.

mini moussaka pots 4

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s all covered in golden, bubbling cheese. Perhaps controversially, I don’t put potato in mine. I just don’t think it needs it with all the other deliciousness in there. But hey, each to their own!

mini moussaka pots 3

So I decided to make individual mini moussakas rather than one big batch because frankly, the smaller the dish the higher the cheese to meat ratio. Now I’m no maths genius, but that’s a lotta cheese. Also, they just look so damn cute nestled in their little ramekins.

I told myself I’d serve Tony and I one little moussaka pot each with a nice green salad (this makes it healthy), then save the others for lunches cause it always tastes even better the next day.

mini moussaka pots 2

We may have eaten two each…okay, three. And I dodged the salad…and burnt my tongue cause I was shovelling hot moussaka into my mouth too fast. I did stop short of a fourth though. I do have some self respect! Plus, I needed to save some room for dessert…not Easter eggs though, that’d just be ridiculous.

What delicious dish did you make to finish off the Easter long weekend?

Mini moussaka pots recipe

Serves: 8 normal people or 3 very hungry (greedy) people

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tablespoon of plain flour

2 eggplants, thinly sliced

50g unsalted butter

1 cup finely grated parmesan

1 ¼ cup full cream milk

pinch of grated nutmeg

1 tbsp fine sea salt

Ground black pepper

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

500g lamb mince

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp tomato paste

½ cup red wine

zest of ½ lemon

1 tin of diced tomatoes (400g)

1 tbsp dried oregano

Instructions

To prepare

Lay your eggplant out flat on baking paper sheets, sprinkle a little sea salt over the slices and set aside.

Cook the lamb, onions, garlic, oregano and cinnamon in a large frying pan over medium heat for around 10 minutes or until browned.

Stir in half of the flour, salt and ground black pepper.

Add the wine, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened.

Add parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Rinse the salt off your eggplant with cold water and pat dry.

Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the eggplant slices in batches for a couple of minutes on each side until they’re golden, and set aside on paper towel.

Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160 for fan-forced).

For the Béchamel sauce

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the other half of the flour. Cook for a few seconds, then gradually stir in the milk. Add 1 tablespoon of parmesan and the grated nutmeg.

Simmer the sauce gently for about 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Season to taste.

To bake

Put a tablespoon of meat mixture into each ramekin, then a couple of thin slices of eggplant, then a small amount of Béchamel sauce.

Repeat until ramekins are full. The last layer should be Béchamel, covered with the rest of the finely grated parmesan.

Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until deep golden-brown and bubbling.

Serve with a green salad and warm, crusty bread to dip in.

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Chrissy Dupé

Chrissy is a lover of lists and a self-confessed control freak. Her mission is to help other women with a strong need to be in control learn how to harness the power of their inner control freak and use it for good. Having lived through the devastation that being control freak without focus brings, and going out the other side stronger, Chrissy developed a series of hands-on, zero 'fluff' programs to help women control their freak, instead of letting it run them into the ground. Her philosophy is based on the little-known fact that control freaks are actually born for greatness... and that without them, the world would fall into disorganised chaos. You can find out more at www.controlyourfreak.com. More about the Author

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