Most of us here in the northern hemisphere and now safely into grilling season i.e. the weather is warm enough for us to cook and enjoy a meal outdoors…just like in Greece! Here in Canada we will grill all year ’round but it’s so much more civilized now that it’s summer. Imagine, us Canadians will even put on our winter coats, brush the snow off the gas grill, light it up and grill a steak (or other meat) in the middle of winter!
Thank goodness its July and I can simply step outside and grill on a whim – without a worry of the cold. It’s now all about backyard entertaining and today I’m going to share my riff on Moussaka…the Moussaka burger. What I’ve done here is take most of the components of Moussaka and re-interpreted it in the form of a burger.
Your usual Greek Moussaka will contain layers of eggplant and ground beef then topped with a creamy Bechamel and grated cheese. Some Moussaka recipes will also contain a layer of potato. So, this burger tries to pick up on many of these layers of flavours experienced when eating Moussaka.
The burger itself will remind you of the meat layer, scented with bay, allspice and oregano and the sauce is lightly perfumed with cinnamon. The burger is garnished with thin, crispy fried eggplant chips and a slice of Greek Graviera cheese tops the burger, just melting from the still warm burger and tomato sauce. If you’re love the Moussaka version with potatoes – easy…just add a side of fries to your order.
(makes 4-6 )
For the sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups of grated fresh rip tomatoes (or pureed canned plum tomatoes)
3-4 whole allspice berries
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/8 tsp, ground cinnamon
Fried Eggplant chips
1 Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced with a mandoline
1/2 cup all purpose flour
sea salt to taste
sunflower oil for frying
For the burgers
1 lb. medium ground beef (approx. 20% fat)
1/3 cup of grated onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
cheese slices (like Graviera, a Greek Gruyere)
- To make the sauce, add your olive oil, onions, garlic into a medium sized pot over medium heat and sweat for 5-6 minutes. Then add the tomato sauce, allspice, salt and pepper and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Adjust seasoning, add oregano and cinnamon and keep warm.
- For the eggplant chips, place about 2 inches of oil in a medium sized deep pot and bring up to 365F. Dredge your eggplant chips in lightly seasoned flour and shake off excess flour. Once the oil is hot, fry the eggplant in batches until just golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve on a paper lined platter. Fry remaining batches and reserve.
- Making the burgers is easy: to a large bowl add your ground beef, onions, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper and allspice and mix with your hands. Form a small meatball and fry it off so you can taste-test. Adjust ingredients to your taste. Form into burgers and either pan-fry or grill.
- Place your burgers in the still warm sauce for 5 minutes then place in some toasted buns, topped with cheese and eggplant chips. Enjoy with a cold Alfa beer from Greece.
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