Mediterranean Delights: Thermomix Moussaka
In preparation for our next Wine Tasting fundraising dinner in aid of Tongham Village Hall, ThermoHubby John and I have once again been sacrificing ourselves to find a delightful selection of 8 Mediterranean wines and 8 Mediterranean foods to enhance them. I know, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it 😉
To enhance and offset our red Greek wine, a silky smooth Organiki Tsantali Cabernet Sauvignon Private Collection 2006 from Waitrose, we thought we’d serve a traditional Greek Moussaka. One of the most emblematic dishes representing Greek cooking, Moussaka is a layered dish of lamb and aubergines (known as eggplant in America and other countries) covered in a rich Béchamel sauce. The depth of the lamb, herbs and aubergine flavours should complement the earthiness of the wine in a very pleasing fashion.
To set that idea in motion we needed a brilliant Moussaka recipe – easier said than done. We started trawling the web for recipes in English and in French, and found so many variations we started getting lost. Some recipes called for beef, most for lamb. Some included potatoes, some not. Sometimes the aubergine was layered in raw, sometimes it was deep fried first, and other times it was dipped in egg whites and breadcrumbs before deep frying. I could feel my arteries hardening as I read the recipes.
I spent all morning comparing several recipes and compiling the best bits into a slightly more wholesome version that wouldn’t break the bank to prepare for 60 guests. More importantly, I needed to break the recipe down into processes that I could do in my trusty Thermomix, my extra pair of hands in the kitchen!
I opted for a Moussaka incorporating both aubergines and potatoes. I steamed the potato slices in the Varoma – nice and healthy that way – and I brushed the aubergine slices with a little olive oil and then baked them in the oven. I grated the Parmesan cheese in the Thermomix and used it to cook the meat filling, as well as the Béchamel sauce. It was really handy to have my Thermomix cooking and stirring one part of the recipe while I was preparing another.
ThermoHubby John gave my creation two thumbs up, so I’m hoping that it will please our 60 guests at the wine tasting. I can’t wait to get stuck in to making the quantities to feed everyone!
Madame Thermomix’s Moussaka
A compilation of the best features of many traditional recipes, highlighting many functions of our friendly Thermomix. Serves 8 easily.
75 g Parmesan cheese, cut into 4 or 5 pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 large or 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
10 g fresh parsley
15 g olive oil plus more to brush onto aubergine slices
3 – 4 large potatoes, about 600 g total
400 g ground/minced lamb
1 tin chopped tomatoes, 400 g
25 g tomato paste/double concentrate/purée
100 g red wine
2 tsp. dried/2 Tbsp. fresh oregano
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground allspice
Salt and pepper as per recipe
2 eggplants/aubergines, about 700 g total
For the Béchamel Sauce:
65 g flour
65 g butter, cut in 4 or 5 lumps
650 g milk
good pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
several turns of freshly ground black pepper
Your Thermomix, of course
Your Varoma steamer
Sharp knife and cutting board
1 large or 2 smaller baking sheets covered in parchment or a silicone sheet
a pastry brush
a large rectangular ovenproof dish*
*Madame Thermomix’s Top Tip: Choosing the right size pan or dish is easy when you use your ingredients as a guide. Place them in a dish that just holds them while they’re whole and you’ll be sailing free when they’re sliced, chopped, etc.
- Grate Parmesan by dropping on running blades at Speed 9-10; tip out and reserve. Peel garlic on reverse; remove skins.
- Chop garlic, onion, parsley, and olive oil a few seconds on Speed 5. Scrape sides of TM bowl. Cook 100° C/5 minutes/Speed Spoon.
- During this time, peel and slice the potatoes into ¼ inch/0.5 cm slices; arrange loosely in Varoma. Reserve. (Can be reserved in a bowl of water and lemon juice if required; just strain and place in Varoma when you’re ready.)
- Add minced lamb to onion mixture. Place Varoma on top of Thermomix and sauté lamb 100° C/5 minutes/Reverse Blade Direction/Speed 1 and start steaming the potatoes at the same time. Carefully remove the Varoma and set it on its upturned lid while you add tomatoes, tomato paste/concentrate, red wine, spices and dried oregano to the TM bowl. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a pinch of dried mint or a few chopped leaves of fresh. Season with 1 Tbsp. salt and 1 tsp. ground black pepper. Replace the Varoma (watch out for the hot water that accumulates in the lid!) and cook the meat filling on Varoma setting/15 minutes/Reverse Blade Direction/Speed 1, while the potato slices finish steaming in your Thermomix Varoma.
- Preheat the oven to 400 ° F/200 ° C/180 ° fan oven. Partially peel the eggplant/aubergines, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around each fruit. Slice into ½ inch/1 cm slices. Place on a baking sheet covered in parchment or a silicone sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Turn slices over and brush other side with olive oil. Bake in oven until golden and soft, about 30 minutes, turning slices over once during cooking.
- By this time your meat filling and potato slices should be cooked, so test the potato slices for doneness and cook a little longer if required. Each slice should be cooked but still firm at this stage. Set Varoma aside and cool the potatoes. Reserve meat filling in your Thermomix bowl if you have another, or in one of those ThermoServer things I’ve heard about Down Under, or in a jug or bowl. Self-clean your Thermomix bowl if you are reusing it.
- Make Béchamel by putting all its ingredients in the Thermomix bowl and cooking 90° C/9 minutes/Speed 4. (Yes, it’s really that simple.)
- Lightly oil your ovenproof dish. Assemble Moussaka by layering potatoes, then aubergines, then meat filling, then some of the Parmesan and finally about 1/3 of the Béchamel. Build another layer like this. Smooth the Béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated Parmesan and bake 45 minutes/180° C. Increase heat to 220° C for a few more minutes to beautifully brown off the top. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Our choice of Greek wine went really well with our Moussaka, and the pinch of dried mint in the meat filling added another dimension to the flavours.