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Potato Moussaka

27 Nov
Potato Moussaka

Potato Moussaka

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

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, b√©chamel 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 ¬Ĺ tsp dried oregano and ¬Ĺ 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¬įF.
  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¬įF 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

Mom’s Meatloaf

7 Mar
Mom's Meatloaf

Mom's Meatloaf

I’ve had a heck of a time getting around to writing this blog this week. It was appointment week in my house for some reason, all scheduled at separate times for different reasons. And of course I still had to work, too. The results of the appointments are… 1. One-week followup for surgery: I need to keep an eye on the inflammation going on in my mouth. Today it is worse, I might need antibiotics. 2. Scheduled maintenance on car: The awful screech in our brakes was a rock stuck in one. Problem solved. 3. First orthodontist appointment for daughter: She has an overbite issue that will add an additional year to the correction to her overcrowding. She will need to be in braces two and a half years. Ka-ching! 4. Still waiting on results of husband’s blood test. He also goes in for a dentist appointment tomorrow. Lastly, there was an impending hatch at an owl box I watch. Luckily it was happening around my lunch break time and was able to observe it, even while on a conference call! We welcomed Maggie into the world today, a beautiful (in my eyes) little barn owl. They look like little dinosaurs when they are born, but grow into such majestic raptors.

Meatloaf Mixture

Meatloaf Mixture

One appointment I won’t mind keeping is picking up my sister from the airport tomorrow! HI SEESTER! I hope you read this, lol!!! She will be visiting for two weeks, and I plan on making Tetrazzini Crepes while she is here and will be sure to write about it.

Now, finally to the recipe! I always enjoyed my mom’s meatloaf growing up. She always had to make two of them at a time to feed our large family, but with only three of us, one is plenty sufficient. I asked her many years ago for the recipe, and she said she used the one on the back of a container of oatmeal! Over the years I have adapted that recipe into one that changes each time I make it depending on what vegetables I have on hand and what spices I decide to use (as usual).

When I decided to make this meatloaf the other night (actually a result of reading a What’s For Dinner post on Facebook), my husband was heading to the store.¬† He has been saying we need to eat less red meat, so I suggested ground turkey. Well that fell flat. “Ewwww” is what he actually said. So then I asked him to buy one pound of fresh burger, because all our burger was frozen. One of the tricks to making a good¬† meatloaf is using fresh¬† burger and handling the meat as little as possible while blending. When you try to defrost a pound of frozen burger in a hurry in the microwave, the edges usually end up cooking before the inside is completely defrosted, resulting in an inconsistent product to work with. He got home from the store, and no fresh burger. “It was over four dollars a pound!” he complained. “Well it feeds us two meals! I only asked you to buy ONE POUND!” I retorted. Men.¬† OK, but I still love him.

Mom’s Meatloaf

1 pound fresh ground burger, or turkey
1 egg
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
Black pepper to taste
Any other spices, to taste
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup vegetables, chopped or shredded (I typically use bell pepper or carrots, sometimes mushrooms or celery)
3/4 cup plain dried oatmeal
Ketchup

In medium bowl, whisk the egg and tomato sauce until well blended. Stir in the spices, vegetables, and oatmeal. The night I made this, I used Cajun spice, Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, and a pinch of cayenne.¬† I decided to make it spicy! I also used shredded carrots for the vegetable. Add the ground burger or ground turkey to the bowl, and gently fold together with your hands until mixed but don’t over do it! Put the mixture into a lightly oil-sprayed meatloaf pan, glass or metal. Press the mixture down firmly until fairly compact, then pour a generous amount of ketchup over the top. Using the back of a spoon, spread the ketchup evenly. I always add more pepper to the top too. Then stick a knife down between the meatloaf and pan and run it around the pan to help separate it so it won’t stick so much. Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour. Take out and then let rest for about ten minutes. We served with mashed potatoes and green beans.

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