Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Moussaka Story: 2009-2011 aka Lamb Part Four.

I promised Moussaka (many many times) & so Moussaka you shall have. This recipe came from the original Saveur Lamb special issue that prompted the Lamb Week 2009 in the first place. This was intended to be the signature dish of the entire series, but hey late is better than never, that's our slogan on this blog, so here we are, February 2011, & I present: Moussaka.
A Moussaka is basically a Greek version of eggplant parmesan, more spicy, with lamb. You begin with a ground lamb based spiced red sauce, by sauting lamb, onions, & peppers in olive oil, adding nutmeg, ginger, & cayenne, then simmering with tomatoes. Meanwhile, fry thin slices of potato & eggplant, & create a bechamel sauce. Layer the fried potato & eggplant slices, cover in each layer in red sauce, then cover the whole thing in the bechamel sauce, bake for about an hour, then serve, anyway you like, as you will see below, Moussaka is extremely versatile (& delicious).
12.9.09. The making of a Moussaka.
I made this first as part of my lamb series back in 2009, & more recently, early January of this year, my Mum was coming to visit & as she is a fantastic cook & usually cooks totally fantastic meals for us every second when we are on the Cape, I wanted to make her something special. During a pre-visit phone call with Mum discussing Lebanese food, breads, spices, etc. (as phone calls tend to run in my family), my brain started traveling through various food & taste channels, & I remembered this recipe, rather time & labor intensive for a week night dinner, perfect for an evening of relaxed talking & cooking time with your family in your kitchen.
MOUSSAKA 2009 & 2011
(2011 featuring Mum's white huge Danish cast iron enamel pan we just inherited).
Back in 2009, I actually did make this on a whim on a weeknight, & it turned out Owen had to work super late, then like a sensible man went out for a drink after, maybe I didn't mention to him that I was making something that takes several hours for dinner? Nope, I sure didn't. Pretty good 1am post bar snack though, served over Israeli couscous, because I was into Israeli couscous & lamb back then.
Late Night Dinners: Owen Eats Moussaka At 1am.
Moussaka was good over Israeli couscous that night (I did eat myself, obviously, but it was much earlier, because who could seriously resist those smells, so I got to draw Owen eating). But it's also mindblowing over lots of things, because it's is a spicy, meaty, creamy, saucy thing, & hence the leftovers are excellent, so the next night we ate them over a green salad with avocado slices (I love love love super heavy things with salad + avocados with warm food).
Leftovers: Moussaka & Salad.
Which brings us back to the present, Moussaka 2011 version (because contrary to the above drawing, that was not the conclusion to Lamb Week, not even close. It's gonna be a really long week). Created in our kitchen in Northampton with Mum & Ali & DustyRose, eaten at our kitchen table with homemade parathas (our new thing, to be covered in it's own post), then the all important leftovers enjoyed by Mum & Ali in Turner's Falls in Ali's apartment the next day & simultaneously enjoyed by Jed & I at the kitchen table here on South Street on a snowy night, over linguine, with grated cheese & a bottle of wine.
2011 Moussaka: With Mum & Parathas, With Jed & Noodles.
There you have it, the story of one humble Moussaka. Just look at the cast of characters who eventually showed up in this simple food story, all those memories now attached to every future bite.
& We are not in fact done with lamb, I just realized that I have made a lamb curry about once a week this winter (how else to survive horrible constant snow & ice winter 2011?) & yet not drawn one. Fortunately one was served at Owen's 26th Birthday Dinner Party just the other night, so I will get right on that (in like a year or two, you know, something like that).
Stay warm & ice free & eat some lamb! xoxo Eating & Drawing

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