This Moussaka Does Not Have Eggplant
If you have ever had moussaka, you will know that it is the ultimate comfort food. Apparently the Croats thought so, too, but maybe they don't like eggplant: I visited Croatia once, but I didn't stay long enough to take much note of what they eat on a regular basis! In any case, they chose to make a version of moussaka without the eggplant that Greek moussaka is justly famous for. A different style to be sure, but still a wonderful one.
The Croatian version is a deeply comforting dish that features meat and potatoes, the warm flavor of onion, and a bechamel sauce on top—all baked in the oven until it is deliciously soft, hearty, and no doubt incredibly calorie-laden. This casserole almost melts apart as you dig into it. I'm not sure why it is so tasty; all of the ingredients are in fact relatively basic. But somehow they just work together, build off of each other, and provide a wonderfully rich, savory flavor. It is easy to make too!
I adapted this recipe from Traditional Croatian Recipes by Bruno Simonovic, which is easily one of my favorite cookbooks. It is short but dense, with great photos and excellent, easy-to-follow recipes, although the ingredients are in metric rather than imperial like in the United States.
- 2 pounds pork or Italian sausage
- 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup cream
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Brown the diced onion in a large skillet with the oil. Add in the sausage, some salt and pepper, and brown this as well. Then add the cilantro.
- Peel and cut the potatoes in thin slices. Lay a layer of potatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish, then put the sausage and onion on top of this. Repeat, alternating, until everything is covered. Pour a bit of oil and some salt on top.
- Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 60 minutes, until the potatoes soften. Then in a mixing bowl combine some salt, eggs, cream, and garlic, mixing thoroughly, and pour this over the moussaka.
- Continue to cook until golden brown, then serve. It is very good with additional sour cream, as well.