Chef Yiannis left his homeland to open the gorgeously Grecian Elia in the Majestic Hotel – lucky for us, he packed his recipe for mouth-watering moussaka.
Chef Baxevanis says: ‘What distinguishes the Greek moussaka, is that it is well known all over the world and constitutes the traditions that are highly valued in Greece. It is a simple dish full of aromatic flavours and the olive oil makes it healthy.’
Ingredients (Serves six) • 2kg aubergine • 1kg minced beef • 200g of onion, finely chopped • 2 soup spoons of tomato paste • 200g fresh tomato, cut into cubes • 600ml pure olive oil • 1 clove of garlic • 1 stick of cinnamon • 2 leaves of laurel • 100g cheese kefalotiri (Greek cheese, call Elia restaurant for details); alternatively a hard yellow cheese • 250ml water • Salt and fresh pepper
Béchamel sauce • 1ltr milk • 100g butter • 100g flour • 150g cheese kefalotiri (or a hard yellow cheese) • 1 egg yolk • Salt and fresh pepper
1 Wash aubergines and trim off stems. Cut off 1/2-inch wide strips of the skin lengthwise, leaving about an inch in between, all around the aubergine. Next, cut the aubergine lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. 2 Put slices in a large bowl or on a tray, sprinkle with salt and let them sit for 30 minutes. Rinse well, drain, and pat dry. 3 Brush slices lightly on both sides with olive oil in a frying pan until lightly browned and soft. Remove and set aside on kitchen paper to cool down. 4 Sauté the minced beef in a casserole dish and stir it continuously. Add the onions, the garlic, the tomato paste and the fresh tomato cubes, laurel, cinnamon, salt and pepper and then add the water. 5 Reduce the heat, continue to simmer uncovered, stirring to prevent sticking, until the mixture is as dry as possible. To prevent the final dish from having too much moisture, this step is crucial. 6 When dry, remove the cloves, laurel, and cinnamon stick and set sauce aside, uncovered until ready to use. 7 Heat up milk in a deep pot. In another warm casserole dish, melt butter and add salt. Add the milk to the butter while continuously stirring. Take the pot from the fire and add the yolk, cheese, salt and pepper. 8 Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly oil a baking or roasting pan. 9 Place a layer of aubergine slices and spread the meat mixture evenly on top. Cover with the remaining aubergine slices, and carefully pour the béchamel sauce evenly over the top. 10 Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the cheese over the top and continue to cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. 11 Remove the moussaka from the oven and allow cooling for 20-30 minutes. Moussaka is traditionally eaten warm, not hot, and can also be eaten at room temperature. Like many Greek dishes, this is even better the next day.
Name: Yiannis Baxevanis Nationality: Greek
With a passion for cooking borne from spending time in the kitchen with his mother, Chef Yiannis has been voted the top chef of Greek Cuisine in Greece for many years and has several awards under his belt. He moved to Dubai and opened his first restaurant outside of Greece, Elia in the Majestic Hotel, two years ago. Since then he has been fulfilling his vision of putting Greek products and cuisine on the world’s gastronomical map.