Today is my Birthday!! I am turning 21! For the fourteenth year in a row! Happy Birthday to ME!
Many moons ago, during my first year in college, I wanted to celebrate my birthday with a meal prepared by yours truly for a few special people. I chose to make this traditional Macedonian moussaka, or a meat and potato gratin, and serve it with a side of homemade bread and a simple salad. Sounds great, right? Well…
All I knew about moussaka was that it was made with potatoes and ground beef. Simple, I thought. Homemade bread? No problem; I have a ciabatta recipe. This was my birthday menu and I was super excited!
I browned the beef. I even sprinkled it with some seasonings. I cut the potatoes and layered them in my baking dish. I topped the potatoes with beef, and added one more layer of potatoes. I set the oven to 425, because that just sounded right to me, and placed my pretty meal in the oven to bake. No eggs, no milk. Somehow, without anything to bind it together, this meal was going to come together as good as my Mom’s and we were going to lick our fingers clean. Ehhhh! WRONG!
Nevermind the fact that I was so upset about my Moussaka not coming out like my Mom’s; at the time I could not figure out why it didn’t. All I had in that casserole dish was burnt potatoes and ground beef. It was dry and tasteless. I truly had not a clue about using milk and eggs in this dish. At the time I thought eggs were only used for breakfast and cakes.
Because I was so upset, I never got around to making that bread, either. No Moussaka, no bread… Giordano’s deep dish pizza was the next best option.
So. Let’s get this right – It’s layer of potatoes, layer of ground beef, another layer of potatoes, topped with a mixture of milk and eggs. Got it? Good!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 5 to 6 medium sized potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2½ cups milk
- 3 eggs
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Cook and stir until translucent.
- Add ground beef and paprika, and cook until beef is browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Butter a 13x9-inch glass baking dish.
- Layer half of the sliced potatoes and sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper.
- Top the potatoes with the ground beef.
- Spread remaining potatoes over beef, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the milk mixture into dish to cover potatoes; cover with foil.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
- Remove foil and continue to bake until top is brown and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Let rest 15 minutes before cutting and serving.