Moussaka is one of my favourite dishes! The richness of minced lamb, combined with the fresh taste of sun-ripened tomatoes and sharp tang of yoghurt is truly sublime! Best made the day before; it’s one of those great dishes you can cook and prepare ahead of time! This makes it ideal for dinner-parties, when you want the kitchen to be clean and tidy for when people arrive; or simply if you know you’ve got a busy schedule coming up and want something you can simply heat through in the oven, which still feels like a substantial meal!
And okay – I freely admit that I browned this a little too long in the oven. We’re all human and the Low Carb Kitchen is by no means immune to the cooking mishaps which plague us all! I am sure yours will look better than the above; but take my word for it – it tasted absolutely heavenly; despite the over-colouration of the yoghurt! Send me a picture of your own creation, and I can do a bit of ‘photo-substitution’; piggy-backing off your own success and expertise!
All ingredients here are incredibly low in carbohydrate. As a result, this moussaka is great for a ketogenic diet, paleo-plan, diabetic-LCHF regime or for those with an intolerance to gluten. All dietary-requirements are welcome at the Low Carb Kitchen!
Start by slicing your aubergines into thin, half-centimetre slices. Depending on the size of your dish, you want at least 3 layers of aubergine. I used a large rectangular oven-dish, enough for 6 people. This warranted 4 large aubergines; you want each layer to just cover the footprint of the dish. I always think it’s best to err on the side of caution and buy ‘one to many’, just in case!
Place the slices onto a lined baking-tray, then drizzle these with olive-oil and grind on some salt and pepper. It doesn’t matter if they overlap or are half-piled on top of each other – the end result will taste the same! Into a hot oven they go for circa half an hour, until the aubergine is soft and pliable, and just starting to brown. Remove the tray from the oven and set to one side to cool.
Whilst the aubergines are cooking, place a heavy casserole onto the hob and add a small spoonful of oil. Season your lamb-mince with sea-salt and black-pepper; then when the oil is good and hot, tumble in your lamb, enjoying the ‘sizzle’ as it hits the pan. Seal this thoroughly, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking; then add in 2 finely sliced onions, 3 crushed cloves of garlic and any other vegetables you have needing to be used up! Mushrooms are great, as are leeks, peppers and courgettes. In terms of quantity; I used 500g of mince for 6 people. Feel free to adjust accordingly in response to size or requirement!
Sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes or so, then pour in a good glug of port or red wine for richness. Given the succulence of lamb, you’ll likely not achieve the whooshing sizzle of the traditional de-glazing process; the wine is there more for taste than any other additional benefits! Crumble in 2 stock-cubes for background ‘warmth’ and add a generous spoonful of dried herbs (rosemary or oregano are just perfect!). Then drain two cans of tinned tomatoes (pouring off the liquid) and add these to the pan. Keep the mix on the simmer for 20-25 minutes until the liquid has reduced down and all ingredients have thoroughly cooked through. Then squeeze in a good squirt of unsweetened tomato purée and incorporate lavishly with a wooden spoon. Taste to adjust the seasoning, adding more herbs, salt, stock-cubes or pepper as appropriate. When done to your satisfaction, lift the pan off the heat, ready to layer up into your serving-dish.
Whilst the mince-ragout is on the simmer, pour a cupful of double cream into a saucepan. Follow this with half a cup of water, one cup of grated cheese (cheddar, parmesan or mix of both) and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Season well, then place onto the hob on a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thick and smooth. The reason you add the water is to help gauge when it’s ready. Once the water has evaporated (circa 15 minutes), you’ll end up back with the consistency of double cream. If you didn’t put the water in, the reduction would have nowhere to go and the pan’s contents would burn. When ready, simply remove from the heat and commence to layer up your moussaka.
Into your oven-dish, cover the base with a layer of aubergine, then top this with a fine coating of cheese-sauce. Now ladle on your lamb-mix until the white sauce is all covered. Repeat the process, aubergine > sauce > mince until the three components are all used up. Take note however – we want the top layer to end with aubergine and sauce – no mince! So bear that in mind when portioning your ingredients.
Once the top layer of aubergine and sauce has gone on, spoon on 3-4 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt. This provides a wonderful sour tang, which counteracts the richness of the cheese and lamb to perfection. Smooth this flat then sprinkle on a dusting of grated cheese and dried herbs to complete the dish. When all is ready, cover the dish with tinfoil and leave in a cool place overnight for the dish to settle and the ingredients to develop in flavour.
The next day, 40 minutes before you’re ready to serve dinner; transfer the covered dish to a moderate to hot oven. Learn a lesson from my mistakes – keep the tinfoil on to prevent the yoghurt from browning too soon. After 20-25 minutes, remove the tinfoil and check the temperature with a probe thermometer (we want 65ºc plus…). If you don’t have one of these, you can easily trust your eyes – if the centre is bubbling and piping hot, you’ll be well on your way! Return the dish to the oven uncovered for a final ten minutes to brown up nicely on top and reach the requisite 72ºc plus!
Once nice and brown, transfer to the table, and serve up with a crisp green salad to provide textural variation. You’ll find this recipe so delicious, you’ll want to cook it time and time again! (Preferably with better results than the picture above!).
Browse this and other recipes by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.
Thanks for reading and bon ap!