This year for Forage, rather than serve a dish that required components – or movements – Edwena Mitchell Catering decided to do an individual serving, pre-assembled dish that only required heating up. Lamb was the meat of choice; therefore really, there is only 1 thing that could be done – Moussaka.
I’d never cooked a Moussaka before deciding that this would be the main course dish I put my EOI in for catering for 1500 people at Forage! How hard could it be? The 150kg of lamb mince that we made into 250 litres of meat sauce was done, the 220 litres of white sauce made – and the vegetables chopped, cooked and the dish assembled at 6pm on Friday 12 April before the Saturday event – all 1500 fabulous individual Moussakas plus some vegetarian and gluten free options had been assembled and were in the cool room – ready for Forage the next day.
The following is the recipe for a deep baking dish of around 16cm x 28cm – and will serve 8 or so people. The components of this dish can be made the day before – indeed it can be assembled the day before and cooked as you need – or re-heated. The white sauce is much easier to deal with hot or warm than cold.
LAMB MEAT SAUCE
1kg lamb leg mince with 5% fat at least (you can use shoulder, but don’t add pork fat – and it will take much longer to cook)
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil for frying
1 large onion – diced finely
1 large stick of celery – diced finely
1 x 400gm tin of crushed tomatoes
1 x 700gm jar of passata
1 good teaspoon of ground cassia
1 good teaspoon of ground allspice
1 cup good sweetish red wine – I used Cargo Road Zinfandel
- In a 16cm x 10cm deep saucepan, fry off meat on medium to high heat, seasoning well with S & P the meat, with a couple of tabs of olive oil – move meat around continuously until all lumps have been “bashed out”. I use a potato masher!!
- When the meat has started to caramelise and burn on the sides of the saucepan, add the celery & onion and stir in well. Keep stirring until the onion & celery start to become translucent.
- Add the rest of the ingredients – check you spices – if they are new, ease off a bit – if they have been sitting in your cupboard for a while – you might need to add more – or throw them out!
- Stir – turn down heat to low – and leave to simmer for 40+ minutes or until meat is tender – this may only take 10 mins or so depending on the quality of your meat.
- Set aside until you are ready to assemble
Pinch salt and pepper
1 good teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup grated pizza cheese firmly packed
75gm grated parmesan cheese
- In a small 12cm saucepan – melt the butter gently, add S & P and flour and stir with small whisk until the flour is all incorporated
- Add mustard and mix further
- Add the milk & cream together a bit at a time – continuously whisking
- When mixture is hot – around 70˚C – add the grated cheese
- When the cheese has melted and the white sauce has come up to 80˚C – take off heat immediately – but keep stirring for a minute or so.
- Set aside until you are ready to assemble
½ small zucchini per person
125gm potato per person – I used Dutch Cream
1 large eggplant – per 10 people
½ small onion per person
Couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
Plenty of salt and pepper
Olive oil for roasting or grilling
- a) Remove the vine end of the eggplant and then slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1cm slices (your knife will need to be super sharp for this – or use a sharp serrated one to start the slice off – and continue with your less than sharp bigger knife.
b) Lay the slices of eggplant on a non-reactive tray (plastic or timber) sprinkle a goodly amount of salt over the slices and leave to disgorge for an hour at least.
c) Rinse eggplant well before grilling with plenty of olive oil.
d) Cool and set aside
- a) top and tail the zucchinis – wash and slice lengthwise.
b) grill both sides with a little olive oil and S&P until nice and brown on the cut side – cool and then chop into 1cm chunks – set aside
- a) dice the spuds into 2cm pieces – place into a large bowl
b) dice the onions into 1cm pieces and add to spuds
c) de-leaf the thyme and add to spud & onion – add plenty of S&P – and a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil to the veggies – toss well to ensure both onions and spuds are well coated.
d) Lay some gladbake on a flat baker and spread the spuds & onions evenly on it
e) cook in a hot oven (200˚C) for 15-20 mins or until slightly brown, cool and set aside
A little extra parmesan cheese for the top & and a fine sprinkle of paprika
- Spread the cooked spuds on the bottom of the baking dish
- Lay the eggplant slices over the spuds
- Spread the cooked & chopped zucchini over the eggplant
- Spread the meat sauce over the lot
- Spread the white sauce over the meat sauce
- Sprinkle the parmesan and then the paprika on top
- Bake in a moderate oven (170˚C) for 30 – 40 minutes until bubbling well on the top.
Serve with a green salad.
One further note – when you are making white sauce in quantities, use 2 saucepans, heat the milk and cream mixture separately and add when hot to the roux – this reduces the time the sauce takes to make and also reduces the chances of burning – the milk & cream mixture can be left to heat up to 70˚C by itself without stirring – the white sauce absolutely cannot!