Moussaka is one of those things that take time and patience but the rewards are immense. It's often reserved for gatherings where the large quantities equal a large guest list. Omitting the eggplant and concentrating on the thigh bulking items such as potato, ground beef and bechamel- this often laborious recipe becomes manageable and it's certainly easier to serve in 12 equal proportions.
This dish is comprised of three (Potato, Kima,seasoned ground beef or lamb, and Bechamel) separate but equal elements that with the exception of the bechamel can be prepared in advance. The beauty of using the muffin tin as the cooking vessel is each individual piece can be customized. Add zucchini to one, eggplant to another, omit the meat sauce in the next. The combinations are limitless.
You will note that egg is a traditional component in the bechamel based topping for moussaka and pastitiso. Although once again my mother thinks I am crazy, I find omitting the egg(s) makes a less custardy topping which I like. By all means include the egg if that's your preference.
12 count muffin tin
2 large russet potatoes
1 recipe Seasoned ground beef (kima)
1 1/2-2 cups bechamel sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 cup kefalotyri or parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon white or black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut 24 slices 1/4 inch thick. Place potato slice on a baking sheet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly brown about 15 minutes, flipping half way through. Place to the side.
Kima (Meat Sauce)
Grate one small onion and one clove of garlic. Heat 2 tbl. olive oil in large pan, add onion and cook for 1-3 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Brown the ground sirloin for a few minutes, add spices and wine, cook for an additional minute until alcohol evaporates. Add tomato paste and mix in, add tomato puree and water. Mix thoroughly and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 30-45 minutes on low. Check seasoning.
In a sauce pan melt butter over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, until mixture bubbles. Slowly whisk in the scolded milk, mixture should thicken rather quickly. Turn the heat off, add the cheese, nutmeg, pepper and salt (if needed).
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 potato slice in each muffin slot. Top with a tablespoon of the meat sauce. Top once again with a potato slice. Pour in enough bechamel to cover the potato/meat sauce. Bake for half hour and serve warm.