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If you’re used to cooking for a crowd, like to have leftovers, or just have a family that can put away a lot of food, then chances are you’ve made lasagna more times than you can count. It’s reliably tasty, hearty, and made with simple ingredients, but it can get boring after awhile. Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, knows a thing or two about cooking for a big, hungry family, and she has a solution. She just shared her recipe for moussaka, a layered meat and potatoes dish that’s basically like a Greek eggplant lasagna. It’s just as craveable, hearty, and simple, but with new flavors you and your family will love after subsisting off of marinara sauce and ricotta for so long.
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Moussaka is a layered Greek casserole that repeats a potato and eggplant layer, a meat sauce layer, and a creamy bechamel sauce. Making it in the traditional manner is a bit fussy, but the Pioneer Woman has streamlined the recipe. The eggplant and potatoes are roasted in the oven instead of fried on the stovetop, reducing the hands-on time of the recipe and mess created by cooking.
William Morrow Cookbooks.
The moussaka meat sauce can be made with ground beef or ground lamb (you could also use ground turkey for a leaner version, or canned lentils to keep the recipe vegetarian). It’s cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and other spices, including cinnamon and nutmeg (you can leave those out if your family is picky, but they add a warm, cozy vibe to the dish that’s totally delicious).
Finally, there’s the bechamel layer. This bechamel gets cooked until it’s thick and pudding-like, and then a hefty dose of pecorino romano cheese gets stirred in. Pecorino is salty and sharp, and helps liven up the flavor of the whole dish.
Once the ingredients are layered together, the whole dish is sprinkled with more cheese, then bakes off in the oven. When it comes out, you’ll be greeted by a golden brown, bubbly casserole full of hearty potatoes and eggplant, a tangy and lightly spicy meat sauce, and a cheesy, creamy bechamel with crispy, toasted cheese bits here and there on the top and corners of the dish. It’s a welcome departure from the usual Italian lasagna and baked ziti we often make to feed a crowd, and once you try moussaka, it might just become one of your go-to comfort food recipes.
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