The Milkweed Diaries

Monday, March 9, 2009

Prize-winning Moussaka

At left: seasonaly-appropriate Greek goddesses Persephone and Demeter with recipe-appropriate mushroom 
held aloft between them.

So, I emerged triumphant from last weekend's Casserole Cookoff , taking home the "most original" prize and tying for "best overall"--brag, brag.  One of my co-competitors asked me to send him my recipe, and once it was all typed up I thought I would post it here as well.  So here is my attempt to reconstruct my non-traditional Vegetarian Potato Mushroom Moussaka. 

Moussaka is a Greek dish usually made with eggplant. Mine has no eggplant and incorporates a fake meat product, to which I am normally diametrically opposed.  The extra chewy spicy layer created by the fake pepperoni in this recipe is worth an exception to my usual no-fake-meat rule.

Here is an approximate recipe:

Mushroom sauce and white sauce adapted from Mollie Katzen recipes.

You will need:

• A bunch of potatoes (8? 10?)
• 3 large portabella mushrooms
• A bunch of fresh parsley (flat-leaf is best!)—about ¼ cup chopped leaves
• 8-12 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
• Tbs dried oregano
• ¼ cup dry red wine
• ½ cup or so basil pesto
• ½ cup or so bread crumbs
• 8 oz Swiss cheese, grated into thick shreds
• 2 oz finely shredded Parmesan cheese
• 8 eggs
• ¼ cup flour
• 2 ½ cups milk at room temp
• Vegetarian fake pepperoni slices (or I suppose you could use real pepperoni)
• 6 oz tomato paste
• Butter
• Salt, pepper
• Olive oil sufficient for frying

1. Cut the potatoes into thick rounds. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet, sprinkle with salt, and fry the potatoes lightly until brown, flipping to give both sides a little bit of crispy, greasy, browning effect. They don’t need to be completely cooked through, because they’re going to be baked. Grind on some pepper if you want while they’re frying.

2. Beat 4 eggs. Set aside.

3. Make the mushroom sauce:  de-stem the portabellas and slice or chop the caps coarsely; crush and chop the garlic. Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in butter in a big, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Once they are nice and buttery and sautéed, add tomato paste, parsley, oregano, ½ tsp salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the red wine. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Then, add bread crumbs, about ¾ of the Swiss cheese, and the 4 beaten eggs.

4. Generously butter a large casserole or cast iron dutch oven. Cover the bottom with a layer of fried potato slabs. Add a layer of pepperoni or fake pepperoni. Then top that with half of the mushroom sauce. Add another layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of pesto, another layer of pepperoni, and then the rest of the mushroom sauce.

5. Make the white sauce: melt ½ cup butter over a low flame. Slowly whisk flour into butter with a constant motion, making a roux. Once you have the roux made, whisk in the milk. Cook, whisking, until thick. Then separate eggs and beat in 4 egg yolks.  

6. Pour the white sauce over the assembled layers. Sprinkle on extra bread crumbs, the rest of the grated Swiss, and the Parmesan.

7. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, covered. Then remove lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.


I am not sure what made this "original" --fake meat? eggplantless moussaka?--but CF thinks it was considered original because it was cooked on/in a woodstove.  I can't promise that yours will taste the same without the magic of cast iron and wood-fired cooking, but have at it!

Here's to Spring, when we move away from such thick and fatty wintery foods to more delicate fare ... I promise my next recipe post will be lighter and include green vegetables!

1 comment:

Dana said...

You make everything sound so damn good and special. You make me want to get a proper kitchen and go to town. you make me want to cook some mushrooms. you make me want to freeze a bunch of nettles this spring (but for I don't have no freezer). You make me want to holla.