Saturday, February 7, 2015


I have been doing some experimental cooking since the holidays using eggplants and some other less commonly used (for me) ingredients.  I got a one pound package of ground goat (!) at the farmer's market a couple weeks ago and decided it might be good as part of a moussaka casserole.  I haven't made moussaka in decades.  When looking online for ideas for using the ground goat, moussaka was recommended.  I spotted a Bobby Flay recipe for moussaka and was inspired by his recipe but took quite a number of liberties based on the ingredients I had available.  Here is a link to his recipe.  
First, some of these things can be assembled in advance. I would recommend mixing the cheese ingredients (except for the Manchego) in advance and refrigerate.  Also, I think you could cook the ground meat mixture in advance and refrigerate (or even freeze!) until the actual assembly of the dish.  There are a lot of ingredients, so be sure to look over the list before you dive in (unlike me).  
A note about spices:  if you haven't updated your spice shelf in a while, do it!  It makes all the difference.  I pulled out a container of ground allspice and opened it.  I couldn't even smell the spice.  Then I opened a package of whole allspice and ground them in my spice grinder.  Oh my goodness.  Night and day. It is worth updating them every 6 months.  You won't believe the difference it makes in the quality of your cooking.

One pount ground lamb, beef goat, or pork (or a combo)
Olive oil
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cardamom (optional)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ onion thinly sliced
1 red pepper, chopped
5 garlic cloves finely minced
1 cup red wine
3 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 eggplant, peeled & cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices and brushed with olive oil.

ricotta or similar cheese, about one cup
goat cheese, about 1/2 cup or use what you have..
fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley to taste and appearance
¼ cup pesto
2 or 3 egg yolks

1 cup of semi hard cheese such as manchego, or similar.

Combine the ricotta, goat cheese, chopped parsley, pesto, and egg yolks and set aside. 
Sautee the ground meat(s) in a pan with the various spices and salt. Remove from the pan and allow the juices to drip into a bowl.  Discard juices.
Add a bit more olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent.  Add garlic and continue cooking for one minute.  Add meat back into the pan, and add the wine and the tomato paste.  Cook until most of the fluid is evaporated.  Remove from pan into a bowl and cool.

In a skillet heated to medium-high add a bit more olive oil and sautee the  eggplant slices until golden brown on each side.  Remove to a paper towel to drain and allow to cool.

Coat the inside of a casserole with olive oil.  Layer half of the eggplant slices, then half of the meat mixture, then half of the cheese mixture.
Scatter half of the lemon zest over the top.  Repeat.

On the surface scatter the grated cheese.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Eggplant slices are brushed with olive oil before browning in a skillet.

Here the meat is being mixed with the sautéed onions and garlic.

First layer of sautéed eggplant going into the casserole dish.

First meat layer.

Then the cheese-egg layer.

More eggplant and I put half of the lemon zest over it (because I forgot to do it on the cheese layer!)

Spreading the final cheese-egg layer

Now sprinkling the layer of Manchego cheese on the top.

I served it with a tossed green salad. 
It was delicious!  I was pleasantly surprised about the ground goat:  it was really good.
I think ground lamb or beef would have been very tasty in this dish, too.