Shortcut moussaka [Photo/The New York Times]
2 medium eggplant (about 2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup grated kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 pound ground lamb (or beef)
1 very large onion, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs.
1. In a colander, toss the eggplant and 1 teaspoon salt. Drain in the sink for 15 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the eggplant with the oil and spread on a large baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally, until golden and tender, about 40 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
3. Bring 6 cups water, the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes; drain and return potatoes to the warm pot. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and egg yolk. Mash potatoes with milk-egg mixture, 1/2 cup cheese, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
4. In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the lamb, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Push the meat to one side of the skillet and spoon off all but a thin layer of fat from the skillet. Add the onions and cinnamon sticks to the skillet. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir the lamb back into the onions and add the garlic and ground clove. Cook 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are soft and the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the eggplant.
5. Spoon into a 9-inch baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the lamb. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake until top is golden brown and slightly crusty, about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: 6 servings.