Potato Moussaka

27 Nov
Potato Moussaka

Potato Moussaka

(Pssst! It’s my birthday today. Any and all comments to that effect welcome. 😉 )

I chose this tasty recipe to test over the weekend as part of Food52’s most recent recipe contest for Your Best Potatoes. I entered my Ooey Gooey Au Gratin Potatoes to the contest, and when I didn’t make the first cut, I looked over all the Community Picks and this one stood out as one I’d enjoy cooking AND eating! So I pressed the Test This button and got to cookin’!

Since I was testing a specific recipe, I did not change or substitute any of the ingredients so that I could give it a fair assessment of the original. I was also very brave and served this to a couple we had over for dinner as the main course, with never even making it before to know how it would turn out. Very brave indeed. With a sigh of relief, all plates were polished off. Whew!

Potato Moussaka Assembled and Ready to Cook

Potato Moussaka Assembled and Ready to Cook

However, if I ever made this again, I would double the amount of spices and herbs called for in it. With the large amounts of potatoes, milk, and cream, the taste of those got lost in the mix. While this was very tasty on its own, three out of the five eating it decided to splash some Sriracha hot sauce over top, which made it just delicious! The other thing I would do different is buy a mandolin to slice the potatoes. It was sure slow going trying to evenly slice that many pounds of potatoes. Oy! Plus I only ended up with three layers of potatoes because I couldn’t slice them thin enough with just a kitchen knife. If you look at the original recipe photo, you can see she did a much neater job with the slicing and presentation. I also did not wait the requisite 15 or 20 minutes to let it set, and that’s pretty obvious from my “square slice” that really wasn’t square or sliced too well.

HINT: Add the sliced potatoes to a bowl of cold water while slicing them, then keep them in the water while you prepare the other ingredients. Remove and pat them dry with a towel when you are ready to assemble. This prevents them from browning.

Soaking Sliced Potatoes

Soaking Sliced Potatoes

Without further ado, here is the recipe I tested, as originally published:

Potato Moussaka <<– link to original, you can also print it from there
Recipe by QueenSashy on Food52 website

Author Notes: Moussaka is a famous Turkish/Mediterranean dish with eggplants, minced meat, tomatoes, béchamel and an occasional potato. However, as the Turks gradually conquered more and more of the Balkan territories and traveled north, towards Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, most of the fancier ingredients were dropped and only potatoes remained with a scant sprinkle of minced meat, a testament to the life in these impoverished farming lands and their colder climates. And that is how the famous Potato Moussaka, one of the staple dishes of the Balkan cuisine was born. Potato moussaka is a seemingly simple dish to make, but the essence of getting it right lies in the baking process. When executed properly potato moussaka is a true masterpiece — wonderfully crisp on top, soft and caramelized on bottom, creamy in the middle, filled with wonderful little caves of fragrant minced beef, and bursting with rich, cheesy taste, despite of containing no cheese at all!  – QueenSashy

Serves 6

  • About 3lb Russet potatoes (to the extent possible, try to use potatoes of similar size and shape)
  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80% lean)
  • 2 small shallots (about 4 oz)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 generous teaspoon of dried summer savory (or ½ tsp dried oregano and ½ tsp dried marjoram)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, plus more for oiling/brushing
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 9×13 inch rectangular baking dish
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large sauté pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, for about a minute or two. Add the ground beef and cook until browned on the surface. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, parsley and summer savory. Divide the meat into three parts.
  3. Peel the potatoes, rinse them and pat them dry. Slice the potatoes 1/8-inch thick, no more, no less. (You may want to discards the smallest pieces.)
  4. Liberally oil the baking dish. Arrange the potato slices neatly in the baking dish in one layer, overlapping each one about the third of the way over the slice that came before, until the bottom of the dish is neatly paved. Sprinkle with salt and cover with the third of the meat. Repeat the process (potatoes + sprinkle of salt + ground beef) two more times. Finish with another neat layer of potatoes (for a total of four potato layers.)
  5. In a small bowl beat the eggs. Add the milk, cream, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix well. Pour over the potatoes.
  6. Cover the baking dish with a foil and bake covered, until the liquid starts to bubble. Once the liquid starts to bubble, remove the cover, reduce heat to 365°F and bake for another hour or so (this will depend on your oven, dish, and many other factors, so start watching at about 45 minutes). The moussaka is done when the potatoes on top are golden brown, spotted with dark crispy areas, while potatoes inside are very soft. (If you notice during baking that top layer is getting dry, sprinkle it with water and brush it with vegetable oil. If you notice that the entire dish is getting dry, add a bit more warm milk. If you think that top is getting baked faster than the inside, cover with the foil again. If the inside is fully done and the top is not golden, finish the dish under the broiler for a minute or two.)
  7. Remove the moussaka from the oven. Let it settle for about 15-20 minutes, then cut into square slices and eat immediately.
Potato Moussaka

Potato Moussaka

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2 Responses to “Potato Moussaka”

  1. richardmcgary November 27, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Nice birthday post and I love potato moussaka. Happy 29th B-Day with wishes for many more 29th B-Days to come. 😀

    Like

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