June 26, 2009

Croatian moussaka

I've been reviewing old issues of Food & Wine magazine these days. Much as I would like to keep every issue, they accumulate fast and storage space can be a problem. So now I just cut out and keep the interesting articles and recipes I come across. This recipe, from a 2007 issue, caught my attention. It's a Croatian version of the more well known Greek moussaka, using potatoes instead of eggplants. It was just the right dish to try for our Thursday potato night. We try to reduce our potato and rice consumption to once a week. Not only for health reasons but it makes it more special that way. The meat filling may be cooked ahead, even two days ahead and refrigerated. Letting it sit in the refrigerator actually makes the flavors blend together better. I used all purpose yellow baking potatoes, which I peeled and sliced into thin rounds. Then I pan fried them in a little olive oil until light brown. Set them aside on papertowels to get rid of excess oil. For the meat filling, brown a pound of ground beef in the same pan. Add chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and chopped fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the meat filling until about a cup of liquid is left in the pan. I made a mistake of letting more liquid evaporate resulting in a drier mixture. The potatoes absorbed most of the liquid during baking so it's best to make a saucy filling. Line the bottom of a 9x9" baking dish with some of the potato slices, then spoon the meaty filling over them. Repeat this process until all the potatoes and meat filling are used up.
layering the pan fried potatoes with the meaty filling (above)
Make a creamy white sauce for the topping. Melt 2 tbsps of butter in a small saucepan, add about 2 tbsps of flour and cook over very low heat for a few minutes. Then gradually add milk or a combination of milk and cream or half and half. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Add some water to achieve the correct consistency. Pour the white sauce on top of the moussaka and sprinkle grated cheese to cover the top. Bake in a 350C oven until bubbly and cheese is melted and topping has started to brown. This potato moussaka was a welcome twist to the Greek favorite.
Croatian moussaka with golden brown cheesy topping


  1. Looks absolutely delicious! My grandmother was Croatian. I don't remember her making this dish. But there were lots of things she did make. Mostly soups and bread.

  2. It's certainly nice to know that your grandmother was from Croatia. This moussaka version must be from another region of the country but I will try to find out more about it to be sure. Thanks again Kat!