Yes, I know it is properly spelled moussaka but it properly has ground lamb. I use ground beef but you could use either, or neither if you want to go vegetarian. I love making it for a crowd but we don't have crowds now so it lasts us two dinners and maybe a lunch for someone. I was listening to a Rancho la Puerta Zoom conference to get the collective wisdom of the 97 year old founder and an 83 year old Jewish Buddhist psychotherapist meditation teacher. They stressed the importance of resilience in these times that are unlike anything that any of us have ever lived through. My version of resilience is continuing to cook as wide a variety of nourishing foods that I can. I like to serve rice with it but not if I prepare the variation with sweet potato.
My first step in cooking most eggplant dishes is to slice, salt, and drain the eggplant in a colander in a sink. Johanna asked how long it had sit and my answer is "as long as you want or have time for". This step supposedly gets the bitter taste out of the eggplant and is not strictly required. So, if you are short on time just skip it. I don't bother to peel the eggplant.
The second step, which could also be the first if you want to do it a day ahead, is to prepare the meat. Brown two pounds of chopped meat in some olive oil, being sure to keep breaking up the meat. Add a small chopped onion to brown with the meat.
Add a 15 once can of tomato sauce, some ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground clove. Add salt and pepper to taste and a splash of red wine if you have it. Cook down until at least half the liquid is gone. Taste as you go along and adjust the spices to your liking.
Variation: Instead of two pounds of chopped meat I used 1 pound. After it was cooked with the tomatoes, spices and wine I added about 1 1/2 cups sweet potato cut into small dice. This is somewhat time consuming but I have lots of time and a great sous chef.
Rinse the salt off the eggplant and line the bottom of a baking dish approximately 9x13. Cover with the meat mixture. The dish has to be tall enough to accommodate the eggplant, the meat mixture and the béchamel topping.
Heat the oven to 350 and make the béchamel topping as follows:
Measure out 2 cups of milk
Beat 3 eggs in a small bowl
Grate 1 cup of Parmesan cheese. You could probably use another grating cheese or a mixture of cheeses.
Melt 1/2 stick butter in a saucepan.
Add 1/4 cup flour
Stir with wooden spoon.
Add milk and whisk until it boils and thickens
Remove from heat and slowly beat in some of the milk mixture into the eggs
Add entire egg mixture back into milk mixture and stir
Stir in 1/2 of the grated cheese
Pour over your filled baking dish and sprinkle on remaining cheese
Cover will foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake additional 10 minutes
Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before digging in.