Layered Potato Casserole


This flavorful potato casserole is the perfect comfort food. The richness of the eggplant works well in the meat layer and the bechamel on top is a creamy, delicious finish. The potatoes are soft and the entire bite is decadent. This is a dish you’ll enjoy serving year round.

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Ingredients
4 eggplants, flesh only
1 onion
1 lb ground beef
2 garlic cloves
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp Kosher salt
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp (for pan)
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
6 to 8 potatoes, sliced
Salt and pepper (for potatoes)

Ingredients – Bechamel
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tbsp Kefalotiri, grated

Add the oil into the pot. Chop the onions and finely chop the garlic and add to the pot with the oil.

Slice and discard the ends of the eggplants and cut the eggplants in half. Remove the flesh from the eggplants by pealing off the skin. Slice the flesh into strips and then chop. Discard the skins. Slice the potatoes and place them in a water bath.

Add the chopped eggplant to the pot along with the cumin and salt. Cook until the eggplant is softened. Once the eggplant is soft, add the tomatoes and the wine and reduce the liquid until it is almost gone. Allow the mixture to cool. At this point you can preheat your oven to 350°F.

While the vegetables cool, prepare the bechamel by first melting the butter. Once the butter is melted, remove it from the heat and mix in the flour to make a roux (will form a clumpy, glue like mixture). Slowly add the milk a little at a time and stir into the roux. (By adding it a little at time, you avoid clumps.) Continue until the roux becomes liquid (approximately 1 cup of the milk). Stir in the remaining milk and the nutmeg. Return to a low heat and continuously stir until the sauce thickens. Once thick, add the cheese and stir in until melted. Remove from heat. Beat the egg and slowly pour in some of the sauce to temper them. Once the egg has warmed up, whisk it into the sauce. Set aside.

Add the cooled vegetable mixture to the meat along with the tomato paste, and using your hands, blend the mixture well. Drain the potatoes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and place a layer of potatoes to cover the entire bottom. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Cover the potatoes with the meat mixture followed by the bechamel. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the bechamel. Cover the pan with silver foil and cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serves 4 to 6.

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