One of my favourite days of the year is St. Stephen’s Day. No, I'm not bah humbug!- I love Christmas, it's just that after all the hoohaa, I really enjoy a day of not getting dressed, fire on, and a few films lined up on the telly. There is absolutely no cooking done - this is the day the microwave earns its keep!
The days that follow are when we have to get creative with all that food in the fridge. Frosty walks work up an appetite, and family and friends are around and in need of feeding. It's also the time I start to get weary of the turkey, but it sits there looking out accusingly every time I open the fridge. A serious disguise is needed, and it must be a wine-friendly disguise.
The rich, black-fruited Kamara Pure Nimbus from Greece, made with the native Xinomavro grape, mellowed out with Merlot and Syrah, feels like the perfect comfort blanket for a winter's evening and calls for a rich, comforting dish to go with it. This turkey moussaka is inspired and brings heart-warming aromas of herbs and spices wafting through the kitchen. I know our Greek friends won't be impressed, but after a glass or two of this cheery red, they'll forgive us anything.
1 kg aubergines into .5 cm slices
1-2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
Leftover turkey sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
500g cooked turkey, finely diced
1 can whole tomatoes, pureed
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano, or 1 tbsp fresh
pinch cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp brandy
100 ml red wine
700 ml milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 large egg yolks
500g grated parmesan cheese
Toss the sliced aubergine with salt and let it sit for 1 hour in a colander.
Preheat oven to 200C
Give the aubergine a quick rinse, then blot it dry and toss with the olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on greased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the aubergine over and bake for 10 more minutes. It will be wilted and lightly browned.
While the aubergine is salting, make the meat sauce. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 7-10 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add all the rest of the meat sauce ingredients - Turkey, tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, salt, pepper, brandy, and wine. Taste the sauce and see if you want any more spices and add a dash or two accordingly.
Bring the meat sauce to a simmer and cook it down until the sauce is fairly dry and not soupy. This will take about 20 minutes.
Next, make the bechamel. You will need about 750 ml.
Heat the milk until steaming in a medium saucepan. In another medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Let the flour cook for 1 minute. Add the steaming milk and constantly whisk as you bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until quite thick and smooth.
Take the sauce off the heat and, while whisking constantly, ladle some of the sauce into the bowl with the egg yolks. Add about 1 cup of the hot bechamel to the eggs. Then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Add the salt, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir to combine.
Assembling and Baking the Moussaka
Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a 20cm x 30 cm casserole dish, or similar size.
Layer 1/3 of the aubergines, then 1/3 of the meat sauce, then 2 tbsp of the parmesan cheese in the casserole dish. Make two more layers of 1/3, 1/3 and 2 tbsp. Ladle the bechamel sauce over into an even coating on the top. Sprinkle over any remaining cheese. Bake the moussaka for 1 hour. Let the moussaka cool for 10-15 minutes, then cut and serve.