This Weekend’s Food Projects- Moussaka

We try to have a nice Sunday dinner. We also knew that Saturday’s dinner would be hard to beat, so when Ross was looking for inspiration, he stumbled across a recipe for Moussaka that inspired nostalgia and a bit of excitement. Since Saturday was spent completing all the week-ahead cooking, I thought we could easily tackle this recipe. It was the only thing I had to do! Fool. This one was complicated. Moussaka- it’s basically lasagna, and had I thought about that before planning to make it, I would have reconsidered. Don’t get me wrong- it was delicious. It was also approximately 35 dirty pans, 62 utensils, and 14 mixing bowls of fun to clean up (which, thankfully for me, is my husband’s job).

Sunday- Moussaka by Jamie Oliver

Not gonna lie- I got cocky on this one. I thought I’d get up, start the sauce (how hard could that be?), roast the potato base, then quickly throw together the rest closer to eating time. I started cooking about 10:30am. I don’t think I stopped until 2:00ish. To be fair, it was fully assembled by then and in the fridge to rest until I wanted to bake it, but damn I was DONE COOKING. I always make a point of reading recipes multiple times before I start them, especially if it’s the first go-round. I must have skimmed this or something because I distinctly remember thinking it wouldn’t be so bad. It wasn’t really, but it was a hell of a lot of steps. Again- delicious. Worth it. But I didn’t anticipate it. On the other hand, I got another 7 episodes or so into Season 5 of Supernatural, so there’s that.

Lining up the players.
Lining up the players.

See? The ingredients look deceptively simple. Whack a bit here, stir a bit there and BOOM. But, no.

The sauce. Probably the easiest bit in the whole recipe.
The sauce. Probably the easiest bit in the whole recipe.

Because I was immediately on a quest to finish this damn project and sit down to knit, read, surf YouTube, or do anything that wouldn’t involve washing 900 dishes, I failed to photograph the 24 steps between making the sauce and preparing to assemble (and by photograph, I mean take pictures with my blurry iPhone 4):

See that pan of bechamel? Yea, that took some time and a lot of stirring. See the plate of supposed-to-be-brown eggplant slices? Yea, after salting them and letting them rest for 20 minutes to remove bitterness, and another 30 bits of paper towel used to dry them adequately to brown and caramelize, they still turned out grey and uninspiring. See the glass casserole with smashed potatoes? Those had to be par-boiled, then roasted for an hour before I could even make it to this step.

The final (and fun) part.
The final (and fun) part.

Sound like I’m complaining? I am. But, I really do love serving something so delicious. I’d never eaten Moussaka, but Ross loves it, so I made it for him. He was more than happy with the result, and any time we eat something homemade and tasty, I feel happy. So the sweating, granny hands from so many loads of dishes, and complete insecurity about the final product, paid off.

Oozing off the sides. But I wasn't wasting a bit!
Oozing off the sides. But I wasn’t wasting a bit!

This really did turnout great. We had an unexpected visitor for dinner in the form of my 5-month old nephew, so I didn’t take any pics of it plated. I had a hard enough time keeping my placemat and food from landing on the floor. (I’m still a baby amateur). When my brother-in-law arrived for nephew pickup, he too gave it a very favorable review.

Overall, this recipe delivered. It won’t go into regular rotation due to the time and steps, but I’ll make it once or twice a year when requested. Now, I just have to start thinking about next weekend’s food lineup…

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