A delicious, typical Romanian recipe: potato moussaka cooked with only two main ingredients: potatoes and ground meat.
MOUSSAKA WITH POTATOES
This Romanian moussaka with potatoes and ground meat is another one of my grandmother's recipes, another one of my childhood favorites.
No matter what my grandmother cooked (well, with very few exceptions) can be counted among my favorite dishes: chicken soup with semolina dumplings, chicken and pea stew, skillet macaroni and cheese or smooth creme caramel or flan to name just a few, they are all recipes that talk about my childhood, that bring back memories, that comfort me and so on.
BEST POTATO MOUSSAKA
I cook a lot, I experiment a lot in the kitchen, I always try new things and I become very enthusiastic when it comes to food and new recipes generally, more than most people I know.
Yet, every time I cook one of my grandmother's old recipes, I cannot help but wondering (for a short moment), why do I even bother cooking something else? The food my grandmother used to cook is always so good, it never disappoints, it always turns out well and nobody ever complains at the table...
But then I get wrapped up in yet another cookbook, something about Lebanese or Indian cooking for instance and then I know, that unlike my grandmother, I could never cook the same dishes again and again for my whole life, no matter how good they are.
But still, these dishes that I have posted here during the past week or so and those still coming this week, are the dishes that I cook more often than any other dishes I know.
Of course, the main reason for cooking them so often is because I grew up with them and I love them dearly. But that is not the only reason.
Other things that speak in their favor and make them a common affair on our dinner table is their simplicity, their cheapness, the fact that the ingredients are always easily available and that the dishes are very easy and quick to make.
That was the way my grandmother cooked. With the exception of a few more festive dishes like sarmale - stuffed cabbage rolls or cozonac – Romanian sweet bread with walnuts, her dishes were simple, quick to make, very seasonal and very cheap, we did not have a lot of money, so she would have to make the most out of very little and when it came to cooking she managed that brilliantly every time, without ever having to sacrifice the quality and the taste.
She would always say that she would prefer to eat meat only once a week, but then always the best meat she could afford and despite the fact that she worked long hours and never had much time, she always walked to the market to buy fresh vegetables and would refuse to buy any veggies at the regular greengrocer's, because only God knew where he got his limp vegetables from.
This easy moussaka with potatoes is a typical example of her cooking: very few and cheap ingredients, quite healthy, making the most of very little and tasting so good and comforting you cannot stop eating it.
INGREDIENTS FOR POTATO MOUSSAKA?
Unlike most Greek style moussakas, my grandmother's potato moussaka doesn't contain any eggplants, which sadly, makes my husband and kids very happy! 🙂
I love eggplants and I would gladly put them into the potato moussaka as well, although my grandmother never did, but after doing it once and having to eat the moussaka alone for the following three days, I gave that up and stick to my grandmother's original recipe ever since.
Otherwise, you will need ground meat, preferably a mixture of ground beef and pork. My grandmother never ate beef, so it was only pork for us, but I prefer the mixed ground meat for this potato moussaka.
Some onions, tomato puree and spices and you're done.
HOW TO MAKE MOUSSAKA WITH POTATOES?
- Heat the oil in a large heavy bottom pan or Dutch oven and fry the onions until translucent.
- Add the ground meat, fry until brown breaking the lumps as it cooks.
- In the meantime peel and slice the potatoes very thinly, preferably using a mandoline, it guarantees for very thin and regular potato slices which will cook evenly in the oven. Set aside.
- Spice the cooked ground meat with sweet paprika, salt and pepper.
- Oil a medium and deeper casserole dish.
- Divide the sliced potatoes in 3 batches.
- Arrange one batch in the casserole dish. Cover with half of the ground meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover the meat with another batch of potatoes. Cover the potatoes with the remaining meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover the meat with the last batch of potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Mix the tomato puree with a little water to make it a bit runnier. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
- Add more water to barely fill the casserole dish, the upper layer of potatoes should not be covered in water though. Pour the remaining oil on top of the casserole.
- Bake the moussaka with potatoes for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Check the potatoes and prolong the cooking time if they are not soft yet.
- If the potato moussaka gets too dark on top, cover it loosely with aluminum foil, you should check after about half the time and cover the dish if necessary.
Otherwise, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas time! And enjoy the rest of the holidays! 🙂
OTHER DELICIOUS BAKES?
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Potato Moussaka – Romanian Recipe
- 2 medium onions about 150 – 200 g/ 5.3 – 7 oz
- 3 tablespoons oil divided
- 800 g/ 1.7 lbs ground meat a mixture of beef and pork
- 600 g/ 1.3 lbs larger potatoes
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ scant 1 cup tomato puree sieved tomatoes (See note 1)
- 1 teaspoon dried savory or thyme See note 2
- 1 teaspoon sweet ground paprika
- fine sea salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Chop the onions finely. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy bottom pan or Dutch oven and fry the onions gently until they are translucent.
- Add the ground meat and fry it until brown, stirring and breaking the lumps while it cooks.
- In the meantime, peel the potatoes and slice them very thinly. Use a mandoline for this task, it guarantees for thin and regular potato slices which will cook evenly in the oven. Set aside.
- When the meat is brown, add dried savory/thyme, sweet ground paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
- Oil a medium, deeper casserole dish with a little of the remaining oil.
- Divide the potato slices into 3 batches. Arrange the first batch of potatoes in a double layer into the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with half of the ground meat.
- Arrange another double layer of potato slices on top of that, adding salt and pepper again. Cover with the rest of the meat and add the last batch of potato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper again.
- Mix the tomato puree with about 50 ml/ 1.7 fl.oz/ ¼ cup water to make it a bit runnier. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Add more water to barely fill the casserole dish, the upper layer of potatoes should not be covered in water though. Pour the remaining oil on top of the casserole.
- Bake the potato moussaka for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Check the potatoes and prolong the cooking time if they are not soft yet.
- If the casserole dish gets too dark on top, cover it loosely with aluminum foil, you should check after about half the time and cover the dish if necessary.
- Serve with pickled vegetables or salad.
- Not tomato paste or tomato sauce. Just plain pureed tomatoes.
- I always use dried savory I get from Romania or buy online, that gives this dish and many other Romanian dishes their typical taste. However, if you cannot find it, you can replace it with thyme. It is not quite the same, but it is a good and tasty substitute.