Tag Archives: red wine

My Big Fat Greek Moussaka

Sometimes you’ve got to have a big cheesy sauce topped, rich red wine sauce soaked moussaka to end your day. I love it, and make it with aubergines and potatoes. And an enriched bechamel sauce.

The Greek moussaka is traditionally a layered dish comprising of aubergine, a tomato sauce based meat layer, and a cheesy sauce topping (my enriched bechamel). And as I’ve said before in a previous moussaka post (yes- it’s so good I’ve written a second recipe), the turkish version is NOT layered.  But equally as good.

As a dinner offering, this one is quite labour intensive. The aubergines need to be sliced and cooked, the potatoes need to be peeled and par boiled, the mince and tomato sauce needs a long slow cooking time, and the sauce needs last minute assembly.  So not your jamie-oliver-15-minute-meal really.  But worth it.  Trust me.


My Big Fat Greek Moussaka


1 aubergine, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons of olive oil (preferably greek!)

500g good quality minced beef

1 tin of tomatoes

½ bottle of red wine

1 bay leaf

300g potatoes

25g butter, melted

25g flour

250ml of full fat milk

200g of grated cheddar cheese, a vintage one is preferable

1 egg yolk



Aubergine Layer:

Using 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, oil a roasting tray. Preheat the oven to 1800C.  Thinly slice the aubergine and lay the slices on the tray.  Roast for about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Meat Layer:

Add the remaining olive oil to a heavy based saucepan and heat gently.  Brown the minced beef very slowly.  Season well.  Add the tinned tomatoes, the bay leaf and the wine.  Cook very, very slowly over a very low heat for at least two hours, cover the saucepan partially to prevent too much moisture escaping.  Set aside.

Potato Layer:

Peel and place the potatoes in a pot of cold salted water.  Cover and bring to the boil.  The potatoes can be left over ones, and you can slice the uncooked potatoes before you boil them, if it’s easier.  Bring to the boil and cook for 8 minutes until half cooked.  Drain and set aside.

When you are ready to assemble, melt the butter, add the flour and stir continuously over a medium heat for one minute to cook the flour out.  Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Bring to a simmer and stir until thickened.  Remove from the heat, add and add half the grated cheese.  Stir in the egg yolk just prior to adding the sauce to the dish.




Grease the baking dish, add a layer of potatoes, then a layer of aubergines, then add the mince (remove the bay leaf first).  Repeat the layers on top, and add the béchamel sauce.  Add the rest of the grated cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.


For extra carb loading serve with a baked potato and some green beans. Divine.



Cheat’s Beef Wellington

I love Beef Wellington.  I mean REALLY love it.  Mind you I like anything wrapped in pastry.

Beef Wellington doesn’t seem to have any connection to the Duke of Wellington.  It’s suggested that it is simply a “re-patriotion” of the well established filet de bœuf en croûte.  In fact the first written reference to Beef Wellington comes from The Los Angeles Times,who published a recipe for “fillet of beef, a la Wellington” in 1903. The Oxford English Dictionary pinpoints a 1939 guide to eating out in New York as the first reliable reference: Tenderloin of Beef Wellington.  In actual fact Theodora Fitzgibbon, the first lady of Irish Cooking, thought the dish originated as Steig Wellington in Ireland, as the Iron Duke was born here.

In a restaurant if you order this dish, you can expect fillet of beef, lathered in a mushoom duxelle or fois gras coating, and wrapped tightly in puff pastry.  This is normally served with a madeira sauce.

Mine isn’t quite the same.  Although with lots of time, it is made from scratch in totality.  But on this occasion, it was really kind of thrown together.

Nigel had got some flank beef, so I used this instead of fillet.  Yes it was going to be a little tougher, so I marinaded it overnight in lots of red wine and crushed garlic.  With a bay leaf thrown in for good measure.


Flank of Beef


The next day I “Roll” the flank, secure with kitchen twine, and brown well on a really hot buttered pan.  This is then wrapped straight away in clingfilm, tightly.  This helps with the shape, and to keep all the goodness in the beef.  Obviously, if you are using fillet of beef (or venison etc) you don’t need to secure it with string, as it is already in the bsic shape you want.  I would, however, still sear and wrap in cling film.  This can now be left until you are ready to prepare the dish.

Beef Flank- seared and rolled

After this it was simply a matter of blitzing the mushrooms and cooking them in a hot pan with lots of olive oil until they were “Dry”.


Mushroom Duxelle

Then, using shop bought puff pastry (I find the Lidl one excellent),  I lay out the pastry, cover this with slices of proscuito (to keep in the moisture).  Spread the duxelle over this.  Then I unwrap the rested beef (snipping off the string, while trying as best as possible to keep it’s shape).  And lay this on top.  All this is wrapped up, and brushed with egg wash. I cook this for 45 mins in a hot oven, for a medium Beef Wellington. If it was just for family, I’d cook it for less.  The most important thing is to leave it rest.  

Beef Wellington

The Finished Beef Wellington

Best served with a rich dark gravy, this dish needs nothing else except maybe some steamed greens.  Delicious.