If any of you are into obscure, foreign, B-rated cinema, I highly recommend the Greek film “The Attack of the Giant Moussaka”. It was recommended to me by someone I consider a learned and cultured person. Although I was sceptical at first, it was actually a very entertaining movie.
In the film, a portion of delicious moussaka happens to be enlarged to gigantic proportions by a spaceship with some sort of laser beam. It then comes to life, more or less, and goes on a rampage around Athens, killing everyone who crosses its path with its lethal tomato sauce.
Unfortunately the film is only available in Greek with French subtitles, but in a way that adds to its obscure charm, doesn’t it? Besides, once you know the premise of the story, you’ll understand most of what happens, with or without subtitles.
The moussaka in the film looks somewhat different from the one I make. It looks like there’s mash on top, which is something I’ve occasionally seen before but haven’t tried myself. But my version’s pretty good too. Potatoes inside, and béchamel on top. Tasty business, people. Cook yourself some of this tonight.
For about four people, you’ll need:
- half a kilo of mince, either beef or lamb
- half a kilo of potatoes
- 1 kilo of aubergines
- a big onion
- some garlic
- some fresh parsley and some oregano
- two tins of chopped tomatoes
For the béchamel:
- 100 gr butter
- 100 gr flour
- 1 litre of milk
- 3 eggs
First, slice the aubergine in long, thin slices. Cover with salt and put in a colander with something heavy on top for at least half an hour.
Peel the potatoes, slice them up and fry the slices in some olive oil. You won’t be able to fry all of them at the same time, so take them in batches and put each finished batch on kitchen tissue.
Fry the mince and in the fat it releases, fry the onion and garlic, both finely chopped. Add a handful of fresh parsley and a couple of teaspoons of oregano. Add the chopped tomatoes, taste for salt, pepper and possibly sugar, and leave to simmer. Add some stock if you think it’s getting too thick (although you should really be fine). I actually really like to add red wine instead of stock, so that’s an option too.
Use kitchen tissue or, even better, a clean kitchen towel, to dry the aubergine slices. Then fry them all, and like you did with the potatoes, put each batch of fried slices on some kitchen paper.
Once you’ve fried all the aubergine, start layering: potatoes, aubergine, mince sauce, and repeat. Try to finish with potatoes.
Now make the béchamel sauce. Preheat the milk. Melt the butter in a pan, once it’s liquid, add the flour. Stir well. Then add the milk. Stir and leave to thicken. (Click here for a slightly more detailed version of béchamel sauce if you’ve never made this before.) When it’s thick enough, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Now whisk up the eggs, and add them to the béchamel sauce, mixing like an absolute nutjob. Seriously, if you have an electric whisk, this would be an ideal opportunity to use it. Beat like you’ve never beaten before.
Pour the béchamel over the final layer of potatoes, then shove the whole dish into the oven, 200°C, at least 45 minutes.