Recipe: Potato Musaka

potato-musaka

Every once in a while we need chow down on good, ol’ fashioned home cooking. The kind that reminds us of mom, checkered aprons, and creaky kitchen chairs.

We all need this edible comfort, especially when the wind chill drops down into the single digits.

Keith informed me that, against all odds, I happened upon one such recipe when I selected Potato Musaka for our Serbian Global Table.

“This is kind of like my mom’s ‘Hobo dinner,'” Mr Picky said, after his first taste.

“Hobo what?” I asked, brow furrowed.

I need not have worried. Clearly this was a good thing; he forked bite after bite of the layered potatoes and ground pork into his mouth, working quickly, looking more like a teenager than a 40-something who generally shows more restraint around food than I can fathom.

After scraping his plate clean, he went back for seconds.

Then thirds.

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He’s in good company. Potato Musaka is much beloved in the Balkans, especially in Serbia. She’s quite similar to her somewhat sloppier cousin, Eggplant Moussaka which can be found all over Greece (and originates from there, too). A yogurt and egg mixture bind together the real superstars: gently fried onion, ground pork, and potatoes.

The sweet spot is that it contains your meat, potatoes, and dairy, so the only other dish you need to prepare is your veggie.

It’s a comfort food quilt.

Direct from one mama to another.

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P.S. Learn from my mistakes. The casserole pictured above was made immediately after assembly. The one below was refrigerated overnight, then baked. The taste was still good, but the yogurt mixture separated and certainly doesn’t win any beauty pageants.

Lesson learned.

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Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 lbs of russet potatoes, peeled & sliced in 1/4″ thick rounds (no thicker or cooking times will be affected)
1 lb ground pork or beef
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

For the topping

4 eggs
1 cup yogurt or sour cream
2 cups milk
salt & pepper

Method:

First, wind your way along babbling brooks and towering cliffs, until you find a beautiful cooking spot.

The Erma Gorge on Serbian Territory near Poganovo Monastery. Photo by Edal Anton Lefterov.

The Erma Gorge on Serbian Territory near Poganovo Monastery. Photo by Edal Anton Lefterov.

Perhaps something like this… (bring your boat over, we can cook together!)

Nacionalni park Tara. Photo by Philippe Sergent.

Nacionalni park Tara. Photo by Philippe Sergent.

Once you settle in, brown the onions in the olive oil. Add in the meat, salt and pepper. Continue to cook through until your house smells amazing. Remove from heat and set aside.

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Next, preheat the oven to 400F and slide some olive oil over on the bottom of a casserole. Cover the bottom with two layers of sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spoon on the meat mixture. Sneak a few nibbles of the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.

Yum.

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Next, add another double layer of sliced potatoes.

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You’re almost done, my friend!

Mix together the eggs, yogurt, milk, salt, and pepper. Be sure to use plenty of salt, as the potatoes really soak it up.

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Pour the topping into the casserole, stopping when the yogurt mixture stops just shy of covering the top layer (see below). Depending on the size of your casserole, you may have a few tablespoons left over, or you may use it all.

By keeping the top layer of potatoes exposed, they brown up beautifully.

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Bake about an hour, or until the potatoes are tender and beginning to brown (you can check them with a knife to be sure).

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If you want the casserole even browner, place it under the broiler for a few moments until crispy and bubbling as desired. I’ve seen some that looked like terra cotta potato chips.

Let cool for a few moments before slicing and serving.

Maybe watch a few clouds roll by while you wait…

Zaovine Lake. Photo by Дуална лиценца.

Zaovine Lake. Photo by Дуална лиценца.

Enjoy, my friends.

If you need me, I’ll be floating on that puffy, white cloud in the center.

TGIF.

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Comments

  1. I am really enjoying your posts this week! My former mother-in-law used to make this exact version of musaka, so I bet she was cooking right from her family recipes. It is a delicious, comforting meal indeed!

    I think I’ll send a link of your Serbia round up to my ex-husband, he will definitely enjoy reading it!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      How fun! As I looked around, it seemed like there wasn’t much variation to the recipes… except perhaps to use sour cream instead of yogurt… I thought I might see some with garlic, but didn’t. It’s great just like this :)

  2. Yum yum yum! We’re big fans of potato casseroles. Normally we make gratin, but this looks sumptuous.

  3. A comfort food quilt, brilliant! (I love quilts, recipes even more) Thanks for the recipe, but also thank you for all the fun descriptions and wording :)

  4. elisa waller says:

    Hey, Im not a big fan of pork..wonder if turkey or beef would work ..Im sure it would but I quess it wouldnt be very serbia’ish…..I think donovan would like this..as long as we dont tell him about the yogurt..LOL <3 love and hugs

  5. This casserole sounds like the best comfort food ever. Browned ground beef and onions and scalloped potatoes all in one? YES PLEASE.

  6. dutchgirl says:

    I’ll make this one very soon! It looks like real comfort food for the winter time. Tnx for the recipe.

  7. Made this tonight, it was delicious, I did use minced turkey because we don’t eat pork, and it was fantastic!

  8. What gorgeous photos! I never knew what musaka was, and I thought if it’s that hard to pronounce, it must be intimidating to make. But I was wrong! I love potatoes au gratin and I will definitely have to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Oh! My! I made this as a dish to take to someone recovering from an illness and also made one for us. This is so easy to make and more comforting than a bowl of mac n cheese!!! This will be in regular rotation in our house. Thank you for sharing.

  10. This looks delicious, will definitely be making it this week, never heard of it, though I love trying new recipes, especially something that looks this good.

  11. This was delicious! Easy to assemble and made quite a bit for my family of 3. My husband got leftovers for a couple of days from this.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] back to the trusty Global Table Adventure blog, where I perused random main items. I hit upon potato musaka and thought to myself, “Well, moussaka is Greek, so this is practically cooking [...]

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