Lamb Moussaka

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Once a week I try to make a carbohydrate-free meal. Refined carbohydrate-free, that is. This usually happens on a Wednesday, and while it’s often a variation on meat and a warm salad, every now and again I think of something that seems like it has delicious carbohydrates in it, but doesn’t. Like moussaka. Replace the pasta with aubergines and suddenly it’s carb-free but still as comforting as lasagne. GENIUS. Of course it’s not exactly the same – the mince is a little more spiced, and a little less tomatoey than lasagne. And the moussaka has a cheesy, custardy béchamel sauce layer on top that is deep, firm and magnificent. Preparing the aubergines takes a bit of time, but start with them and you can do the lamb mince while they are draining and cooking.

Lamb Moussaka

2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped
500g lamb mince
2 lamb stock cubes (or beef/chicken – depending what you’ve got)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
2 tblsp peach chutney
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
6 aubergines
For the sauce:
2.5 cups milk
2.5 tblsp butter
4 tblsp flour
½ tsp nutmeg
2 egg yolks
100g parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 4
  1. Peel the aubergines using a potato peeler, and leave strips of rind on every now and again. Cut them into thick slices – thicker than you would normally for frying slices. About double as thick. I cut the aubergines into rounds, but you can also cut them lengthways, depending on your preference. I think I am going to do mine lengthways next time, because there will be less slices to turnover when grilling later. But it’s up to you. Arrange the slices of aubergine in a colander in the sink, and between each layer of aubergines, sprinkle a generous layer of salt. The salt will draw out the bitter juices of the aubergines – you will be surprised how much liquid comes out into the sink! Leave them draining for 30min or so, and in the meantime, start the mince.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the chopped onion and garlic. Fry until the onions are soft and golden, and then add the lamb mince, crumbled stock cubes, cinnamon and cumin. Toss the mince a few times to brown on all sides, and add the tinned tomatoes and chutney. Mix well and simmer, covered, for 30min, and then removed the lid and simmer for another 30min. Mince should always be simmered for an hour or so, so that it has a chance to absorb some liquid and soften.
  3. Meanwhile, back to the aubergines. Rinse them in the colander well (you need to get rid of that salt or you will be in for a nasty surprise later), and blot dry with a paper towel. Arrange them on a foil-covered baking tray and brush with a little olive oil. Cook under the grill until they are just beginning to brown, and then take them out, turn them over, brush the other side with olive oil, and grill again.
  4. When the aubergines are done, preheat the oven to 180°C, and arrange the first layer of aubergine in your lasagne dish. Arrange half the slices to cover the bottom of the dish, with as little space in between as possible. When the mince is ready, layer half of it on top of the aubergine slices and smooth it over. Follow with the remaining slices, and then the rest of the mince.
  5. Finally, pour the cheese sauce on top, sprinkle with some extra grated parmesan, and bake at 180°C for 30min. Serve with a side salad of whatever you’ve got, really. I like avocado, cherry tomatoes, white wine vinegar and chopped fresh mint – the mint complements the lamb and the white wine vinegar brings a nice tartness.
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