Renee Brooks Catacalos Greek-style Moussaka

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4 tablespoons butter or margarine
¾ pound ground lamb or beef
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
¼ cup red wine
1 teaspoon coarse salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium eggplant
olive oil, butter or nonstick spray for frying
6 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, warmed
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Heat a large skillet to high, add the butter or margarine, and brown the ground beef or lamb with the chopped onions. Add the parsley, tomatoes, wine, salt, and pepper, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Peel the eggplant and slice lengthwise into 12 to 16 ½-inch slices. Heat another skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough olive oil or butter, or a combination of both, to cover the bottom. Place as many eggplant slices in the pan as will fit without crowding. Fry both sides until golden. Repeat with all the slices, adding oil/butter before each batch. Drain on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a deep, 8-inch-square casserole with nonstick spray. Place a layer of eggplant slices on the bottom and sprinkle with salt. Spread half the meat filling on top and add another layer of eggplant with a sprinkling of salt. Cover with the remaining meat filling, and finish with a final layer of eggplant. Set aside while making the cheese soufflé topping.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Slowly pour in the warm milk, whisking to blend. Continue cooking and whisking over medium heat until the mixture thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in the beaten eggs, then add the cheese and nutmeg. Pour over the casserole, covering the surface, but be careful not to overfill.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the topping has puffed up and browned. Remove and let stand at least 30 minutes before serving. It is excellent made a day ahead and reheated.

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