HELLMANN’S MAGICAL MOUSSAKA

Ingredients

The Eggplant and Potatoes:

2 pounds Italian eggplant

½ – ¾ cup olive oil

1 ½-2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

Vegetable or canola oil for frying

 

The Bolognese Ragu:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, minced (about ½ cup)

2 celery, minced (about ½ cup)

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ cup Hellmann’s Garlic Aioli Dip and Spread

2 pounds ground beef

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon ground cloves

8 thyme sprigs, tied together with kitchen string

½ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup pumpkin puree

1 cup spaghetti sauce

The Bechamel:

1 stick butter

¾ cups flour

4 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup Jarslberg or gruyere cheese, shredded

1 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded

The Layers:

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Cut the root ends off the eggplant.  Peel most of the skin off the eggplant, leaving ½” thick stripes of skin, every 2” around the fruit.  Cut the eggplant lengthwise into ½” thick slabs.  Place them on the baking sheet and drizzle both sides of each piece generously with the olive oil.  Season with liberally with the salt and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes until the eggplant is soft and lightly browned.  Set aside.

Place 1 ½” of the vegetable oil in a large deep skillet to 360-365 degrees.  Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet covered with foil.

Cut the potatoes into ½” thick slices and fry them in the hot oil in batches for 4-5 minutes until they are lightly browned and very tender when pierced with a fork.  Place them on the cooling rack and season immediately with salt.  Set aside.

To make the Bolognese ragu, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes until they are soft and fragrant.  Add the Hellmann’s Garlic Aioli and cook, stirring for 1 minute more.  Add the ground beef and continue cooking, breaking the meat up with a spatula until it is in small pieces and mostly cooked through.

While the meat is cooking, add the salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and thyme bundle to the pan, stirring frequently to combine.  Add the wine to the pan and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Add the tomato paste and pumpkin puree to the pan.  Stir until well incorporated.  Add the spaghetti sauce and stir to combine.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the beef mixture is moist but not wet. When you pull the meat aside in the pan, you will be able to see the bottom of the pan with no moisture seeping in.  Remove from heat and set aside to rest and let the flavors mingle.  Discard the thyme bundle.

To make the bechamel, melt the butter in another large deep skillet.  Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to make a paste and cook off the raw flour flavor.  Gradually add the milk, whisking until a smooth thick sauce forms that coats the back of a spoon.   Add the salt, nutmeg, mayo, and parmesan to the pan whisking vigorously to combine.

Crack the eggs into a bowl.  Reduce the heat to low and add the eggs at the same time whisking vigorously to keep them from cooking.  Continue to whisk continuously for 2 minutes until the eggs are well incorporated into the smooth thick sauce.  Remove from heat and whisk in the shredded cheese until fully melted and smooth.

To assemble the moussaka, lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” baking dish with olive oil.  Place the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping in an even layer.  Sprinkle ¼ cup of the grated parmesan over the potatoes.

Spread the Bolognese ragu in an even layer over the potatoes, pressing it down lightly into a flat layer with an offset or rubber spatula.  Sprinkle another ¼ cup of the cheese over the ragu.

Place the eggplant on top of the ragu slightly overlapping to create an even layer of eggplant.  Pour the bechamel over the top of the eggplant and spread it evenly with an offset or rubber spatula.  Note – the casserole will be very full.  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of parmesan over the top.  Place the casserole on a foil lined baking sheet so if there is any spillage, you don’t mess up your oven!

Bake for 40-50 minutes until the casserole is hot and bubbly and the bechamel on top is golden brown.  Let rest for 30-40 minutes to set before cutting.  Cut into squares and serve with Greek salad.

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