The Romanian potato Moussaka is made with layers of potatoes and minced meat. This dish is comfort food, perfect for the entire family!
What is a moussaka?
Moussaka is a popular dish that can be found in Mediterranean cuisine or the Balkans. You will probably find it in every Greek restaurant as it is known, especially in the United States, as being part of Greek Cuisine and nothing more.
However, historically, the Moussaka was also found in every country that was part or influenced by the Ottoman Empire.
Even if Romania was never part of the big empire, there are many Ottoman influences in Romanian cuisine. Therefore, we have a version of this dish that is also very popular in Greece.
The Moussaka is made with layers of vegetables, usually eggplant or potatoes, and minced meat. In Greece, they use minced lamb.
In Romania, we use minced pork or beef or a mixture of these two meat types. Some vegetarian versions are made with mushrooms instead of meat. There are also versions out there using pasta instead of potatoes or eggplant.
How to make
My version is made with potatoes and ground beef. You can use the same recipe but replace the potatoes with eggplant or zucchini.
Play with the ingredients and see what you like more. I like all versions the same.
The Moussaka or the "Musaca," as we call it in Romania, the one that I will show you next, uses boiled potatoes.
Some Romanians fry the potatoes first before they use them in the recipe. No matter how you make it, the potatoes need to be cooked before you assemble the Moussaka.
If you use boiled potatoes
Clean the potatoes well, then place them unpeeled in a pot. Boil them with enough water to cover them. They are ready when a fork goes through them.
Discard the water and let the potatoes cool until you can handle them. Remove the skin and slice them.
If you use fried potatoes
Clean and peel the potatoes, then slice them. Fry them in one layer, in batches, in a pan with lots of oil.
Remove the fried potatoes from the pan and place them on a tray covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Then, continue with the recipe.
The layers of potatoes, flavorful ground meat, cheese, and sour cream on top make this dish a truly comforting food to enjoy any time of the year. With a glass of wine. Red. Or white. Or whatever you like.
It is relatively easy to put together and makes awesome leftovers for a next-day lunch or dinner. Perfect for a family! Enjoy!
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Romanian Authentic Potato Moussaka
- 8-9 boiled medium potatoes with the skin on
- 1 ½ pound ground beef or pork or a mixture of it
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 can 14.5oz diced tomatoes or tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for sautéing the meat
- a handful of chopped parsley
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour or bread crumbs to cover the bottom of the baking tray
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Wash the skin of potatoes really well using a kitchen brush.
- In a big pot, place the potatoes and enough water to cover them. Boil the potatoes until tender(or a fork goes through them).
- When the potatoes are boiled, remove the pot from the stove, drain the water, and set the potatoes aside to cool.
- While the potatoes are cooling, brown the ground meat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Add chopped onion, salt, pepper, and paprika mix well, and continue to brown the meat and the onions together.
- When the meat is ready, add the crushed/diced tomatoes or the can of tomato sauce.
- Mix well and cook on medium heat for few minutes until the liquid is reduced and the sauce is formed.
- Add the chopped parsley and mix well.
- Separately, beat the eggs and mix them with the sour cream and the shredded cheese.
- Remove the skin of the potatoes and discard them. Slice the potatoes.
- Butter and flour/bread crumbs an 8x8 inches baking dish.
- Place slices of potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of meat mixture.
- Add another layer of sliced potatoes, another layer of meat, and repeat until you finish all ingredients.
- The last layer should be potatoes.
- Beat the eggs, mix them with sour cream and cheese. Add a little bit of salt to your taste. Pour this mixture over the last layer of potatoes.
- Bake in the oven at 350F for about an hour or until golden brown on top.
- Cut in squares and serve warm topped with sour cream.