Moussaka for Lunch

Today started out with me castrating about 25 ram lambs.  Thankfully, Dallas and Rick caught and held them for me – MUCH easier to have extra hands.  To castrate lambs, one catches them up and holds their hind legs up to their front legs thereby the testicles are easy to grab hold of.  The handler is holding the ram on his lap.  I assured Rick I’d never missed before.  I think i scared him a bit!   😉  (I did NOT use my teeth!)   We also dewormed all the lambs as well as the ewes.  That will help clean them up and get them gaining well before selling the lot on September 7 at Kirksville Livestock Auction at the special sheep sale that day.  After selling off 54 lambs, 80 ewes, and 2 mature rams on Monday, we counted out about 51 lambs and and 52 ewes to sell the 7th, then I’ll be out of the sheep business.

This afternoon, I’m doing the washing and will clean up and around the barns in preparation for semen checking the bulls tomorrow and hauling out to the cows.

Moussaka” is an Arabic word and a popular dish in many Middle Eastern countries, the immortal eggplant-and-lamb casserole is generally credited to the Greeks, who claim it as a national treasure.  This recipe provides 8-10 servings.

1 large eggplant (or about 2 lbs)

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground lamb

1 medium onion, chopped

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

3/4 cup red wine or beef broth

1 tablespoon snipped parsley

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmet

White Sauce (see recipe)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 cup dry bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

Tomato Sauce (see recipe)

Cut unpared eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.  COok slices in small amount boiling, salted water (1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup water) until tender, 5 to 8 minutes.  Drain.  Heat butter in 12-inch deep skillet until melted.  Cook and stir lamb and onion until lamb is light brown: drain.  Stir in tomato sauce, wine, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Cook uncovered over medium heat until half the the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Prepare White Sauce.

Stir 2/3 cup of the cheese, 1/3 cup of the bread crumbs and the egg into meat mixture; remove from heat.  Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs evenly in greased oblong baking dish 13 1/2 x 9 x 2 inches.  Arrange half the eggplant slices in baking dish; cover with meat mixture.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the remaining cheese over meat mixture; top with remaining eggplant slices.  Pour White Sauce over mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cook uncovered in 375ºF oven 45 minutes.  Prepare Tomato Sauce.  Let moussaka stand 20 minutes before serving.  Cut into squares; serve with Tomato Sauce.

White Sauce

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups milk

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Heat butter over low heat until melted.  Blend in flour, salt, and nutmeg.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly; remove from heat.  Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, sitrring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Gradually stir at least 1/4 of the hot mixture into eggs.  Blend into hot mixture in pan.

Tomato Sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finly chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 bay leaf, crushed

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

Cook and stir onion and garlic in oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until onoion is tender.  Add remaining ingredients except tomato paste.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered until thickened, about 30 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.  (Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water if necessary for desired consistency.

PERSONAL NOTES:

I use organic grassfed milk, eggs, and butter.  Freshly grated Parmesan cheese and locally and organically grown tomatoes for sauces.  You can buy organic tomatoes and paste in the stores.  Thankfully, between what we raise ourselves and what i can purchase, it is all local and/or organic.  Flavours are much better.

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