Turkish Eggplant and Ground Beef Casserole
This popular Turkish dish features layers of tender eggplant, tomato sauce and seasoned ground beef topped with an optional white sauce and cheese.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 2cups vegetable oil (for frying)
- 1tablespoon olive oil
- 1pepper (Hungarian, or other green, sweet pepper)
- 1pound/600 grams ground beef (lean)
- 1large tomato
- 1tablespoon tomato paste
- 1teaspoon salt
- ½teaspoon black pepper
- ½teaspoon allspice
- 3large tomatoes
- 1tablespoon tomato paste
- ½teaspoon salt
- ¼teaspoon black pepper
- ½teaspoon sugar
- ½teaspoon oregano
- 3tablespoon butter (or margarine)
- 3tablespoon flour
- 3cups milk
- 1cup cheese (grated Turkish kaşar, or other mild, yellow cheese)
- Garnish: sweet red pepper strips or slices and/or green pepper
Step 1Begin by peeling your eggplants. Using a vegetable peeler, begin at one end and remove a strip of peel from end to end. Leave a strip of peel about the same width, then peel another strip from end to end.
Step 2Repeat this until your eggplant is peeled in a striped pattern. Peel all eggplant this way.
Step 3Slice the eggplants about 1/4-inch thick. Put all the eggplant slices in a large bowl of salty water and let them soak for about 30 minutes. This removes the bitterness.
Step 4Slice the green pepper into thin rings. Grate 1 tomato. Peel and chop the onion finely and fry it in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until tender.
Step 5Add the green pepper slices and continue frying until soft. Add the ground beef and fry until browned. Add the grated tomato, tomato paste, and spices.
Step 6Cover the pan and let the meat simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Step 7Grate the other 3 tomatoes and put them in a small saucepan.
Step 8Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, and sugar and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Step 9Remove the eggplant slices from the water and blot them dry with paper towels.
Step 10Fry them on both sides in vegetable oil until tender and golden brown on both sides. Drain them well on paper towels.
Step 11Line the bottom of a large baking tray with the fried eggplant slices to make a single layer. Make sure there are no gaps between the pieces.
Step 12Spread the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Next, cover the tomato sauce layer with the meat mixture.
Step 13In a large pan, melt the butter over high heat. Add the flour and turn it around a few times with a wooden spoon.
Step 14Add the milk and seasonings and use a wire whisk to make the mixture smooth as it thickens. Your béchamel sauce is ready when it’s the consistency of pudding.
Step 15Pour the hot béchamel sauce over the meat layer, covering it completely. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.
Step 16Bake the casserole in a 360 F / 180 C oven until the top turns golden brown.
Step 17Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting it into squares.
Step 18Serve your musakka with Turkish-style rice pilaf.