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2 large aubergines, about 1kg (2lb 4oz) in total about 250ml (9fl oz) light olive oil 
1 large onion, finely chopped 
3 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
850g (1lb 14oz) minced (ground) pork and beef 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
½ tsp dried oregano 
1 bay leaf 
125ml (4fl oz) white wine 
500g (1lb 2oz) passata 
500g (1lb 2oz) potatoes, peeled

For the béchamel sauce
120g (4oz) butter 
125g (4½oz) plain flour 
1 litre (1¾ pints) warm milk 
a little freshly grated nutmeg

Trim the hats off the aubergines, then slice the aubergines lengthways into 5mm (¼in) slices. Sprinkle quite generously with salt and leave in the sink or in a bowl for about 30 minutes to draw out any bitter juices.

Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a wide non-stick saucepan. Sauté the onion until softened and lightly golden. Add the parsley and garlic and cook for another minute then add the mince. Cook over a medium-high heat until the meat loses its water and begins to brown, shifting it around with a wooden spoon. Add the spices, bay leaf and season .

When the mince is golden, add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon to make sure no mince is stuck. Let most of the wine evaporate, then add the passata and simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring now and then. Break up any clusters.

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes lengthways into 5mm (¼in) slices and pat dry. Heat 4 or 5 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan and fry the potatoes in batches over medium heat until golden on both sides and cooked through. Remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little salt. Rinse the aubergine with cold water and pat dry. Fry in batches in the same pan and oil as the potatoes . When the underside is golden, turn over and prick with a fork in several places, especially in any still hard bits, so that they are almost collapsing. If you press down with a fork, they should be almost like a purée. If they are darkened but not yet soft, stack them on top of the new batch so they can cook for longer. Remove each batch to a plate lined with kitchen paper , adding only a tablespoon of oil if possible between batches.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Arrange half the aubergine over the base of your oven dish, slightly overlapping if necessary. Then add the potatoes in a single layer, if possible. Add half the mince, pressing it down, then the rest of the aubergine in a layer, and then a final layer of mince. Press it down and you should still have about 2½cm (1in) space at the top of the dish.

Make the béchamel just before you bake the moussaka. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Then , working quickly, add the milk in ladlefuls with one hand while whisking with the other. When the sauce seems smooth and not too stiff, add salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg and continue cooking, even after it comes to the boil, for five minutes or so, mixing all the time. It should be very thick and smooth . Taste for seasoning and spoon over the mince. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour with a baking-sheet underneath to catch any spills, until the moussaka begins to bubble up and the top is golden in parts. Leave it in the oven to cool slightly before serving. It could even be served at room temperature.



Greek moussaka recipe
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes