Creole Style Moussaka

Now that we made all these sauces mères last week, let’s make something with one of them. Moussaka is a traditional Greek casserole typically made with eggplant, lamb and potato and is covered by a creamy Béchamel sauce. I love it, it’s one of my favorite dishes of all time (and I HATE eggplant). To make it a Louisiana Creole dish, I essentially combined the ingredients from my grandmother’s mirliton casserole and added Béchamel and some “typically Greek” spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Creole Style Moussaka

For the filling:
1/2 lb chopped shrimp
1/2 lb lump crabmeat
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 toes garlic, peeled and crushed

For the cheese sauce:
Refer to Béchamel recipe (quick and dirty version will be fine) and halve it
4 oz white cheddar cheese or parmesan, grated

Additional ingredients:
2 good-sized eggplants
4 mirlitons
Kosher salt
Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 °. Peel the mirlitons and slice each lengthwise in half and remove the seed. Using a sharp knife, slice each half into 1/2“ slices. Cut the ends off the eggplants, and slice into 1/2” slices from top to bottom. Place eggplants and mirlitons in separate baking or roasting trays – salt the mirlitons, and drizzle both liberally with oil. Place in the oven – cook mirlitons for 35 minutes or until soft like baked potato, and eggplants for 15-20 or until fairly limp. Remove from oven and allow to cool, covered.

While doing this, in a large non-stick saucepan heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, puree, wine and remaining spices and condiments. Add the chopped shrimp and once they turn pink, cover and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. When done, place filling in a separate mixing bowl, add in bread crumbs and fold in crab meat, being careful not to break lumps.

In a separate pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and mix in the flour until you get a blond roux. Reduce the heat and slowly stir in the milk, adding a little at a time as the sauce thickens consistently. Do not allow the sauce to become too thick or the roux to become too dark, as this can lead to lumps. When the milk is all used, sprinkle the cheese into the pan and stir well. You just made a Mornay sauce.

Take a large, square, oven-proof casserole dish. At the very bottom, lay half of the mirliton slices (covering the bottom evenly) then half the eggplant, covering the mirliton. Add half the filling and spread over the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining mirliton, eggplant and sauce, and then cover with the Mornay sauce, smoothing over the top layer of meat with a spatula to ensure that all of the filling is coated. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, and serve.

Optional: You could substitute diced ham for the crab.

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