Disclaimer: Traditional moussaka is made with lamb, and layers of fried eggplant. While I'm sure that is delicious, I cannot afford to buy lamb in bulk, and I don't want to take the time or calories to fry eggplant. So instead, I use ground chicken, turkey, or lean ground beef, and dice up and saute the eggplant instead of frying.
This recipe is my adaptation of Bobby Flay's recipe on Throwdown a few years ago.
1/4 cup dried currants or golden raisins
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground meat (beef, chicken, or turkey are all fine)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 small eggplant, diced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, and thinly sliced1 serrano chile, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 (28-ounce can) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
Honey, if needed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup soft goat cheese or feta cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan
1 lemon, zested
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 6-quart saucepan over high heat. Add the ground meat, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cayenne, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a large strainer set over a bowl and drain; discard any liquid left in the pan. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the onions, bell pepper and eggplant, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the serrano and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Return the meat to the pan, add the wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and currants and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and oregano and season with salt and pepper and honey, if needed. Remove from the heat.
For the bechamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, 2 minutes. Still whisking constantly, add the milk and bay leaf and cook until thickened. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and discard the bay leaf. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, goat cheese, and lemon zest and whisk into the bechamel sauce until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or casserole dish.
To assemble: Pour the meat into the casserole dish and spread evenly. Pour the bechamel over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle Romano evenly over the top, place the dish on a baking sheet, and bake until browned and bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Top with more chopped parsley, if desired. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.