A traditional moussaka is a casserole usually made from ground lamb mince, covering a layer of sauted eggplant (aubergine) and topped with a bechamel sauce. There are many different versions of moussaka from around the mediterranean but the best known ones are from Greece.
For this version of moussaka, I've replace the lamb with beef mince, crumbed the eggplant and topped it with a creamy cheese polenta layer. The layering is quite similar to lasagne minus the pasta but I've managed to incorporate the polenta (cornmeal) instead of the bechamel sauce (white sauce) to give it more structure, and of course to add in corn for the kids.
Polenta Crusted Moussaka
300 g beef mince
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
410 g tin of tomato puree
4 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
salt to taste
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
2 medium eggplants, sliced thickly
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs
1 egg white
2 1/2 cup chicken stock
2 1/2 cup milk
1 cup polenta (cornmeal)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
30 g butter
1. Cut the eggplants and place in a bowl. Add the egg white and toss the eggplants coating it with the egg white. In a small bowl place the breadcrumbs and coat the eggplants.
2. Preheat oil for deep frying. Place a small batch of crumbed eggplants and fry until it is golden. The eggplant should be crispy and the bread crumbs will help absorb the sauce. Remove and drain.
3. In another saucepan, heat oil and saute the onions and garlic. Add the beef and cook until browned. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano and stir. Add the tomato puree, wine, water, pepper and salt. Bring it to the boil and simmer over medium heat, covered for 15 mins and cook further until the sauce has thicken.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C. In a shallow baking dish, ( I would normally use a 2 small baking dishes equivalent to the size of 1 rectangular lasagne dish) arrange the crispy eggplants at the bottom layer. Add the meat sauce next and spread evenly over the eggplants. Spread the polenta layer on the top and bake for about 15 mins or until the top is golden brown.
1. Pour the milk, chicken stock in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat. Gradually add the polenta and carefully stir out any lumps. Keep stirring until the polenta thickens. It should take about 10 mins and add the parmesan, mozarella cheese and butter. remove from heat.
*** The kids loved the polenta and they didn't even realise that it was cornmeal!!