What’s cooking today: Chicken Moussaka
This recipe takes the traditional Greek lamb or beef moussaka and adapts it to chicken. Rather than a béchamel sauce, it uses Greek yoghurt laced with garlic and lemon.
The oregano, garlic, lemon and even a hint of cinnamon (common in Greek cuisine) in this recipe ensure that this alternative take on a moussaka is very Greek in style.
In addition to layers of cooked aubergine/brinjals, I also used zucchini (courgettes), which are sometimes included in traditional moussaka. Another frequent inclusion in moussaka is potato, but I decided against that. If you do choose to add it, first steam scallops of potato until almost tender, then cool them before laying them out at the bottom of the oven dish with salt and pepper.
If minced chicken meat is not available, buy some breast fillets and ask a butcher to mince it for you.
800 g chicken breast meat, minced
Olive oil, as needed
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 additional garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp picked fresh thyme leaves
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 scant tsp ground cinnamon
500 ml plain Greek yoghurt
2 or 3 aubergines/eggplants, sliced lengthwise
6 medium zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes
Salt and white pepper to taste
300 g grated melting cheese such as Cheddar, or Greek Kefalotyri if you can get it
1 Tbsp cornflour dissolved in 3 Tbsp water
Coarse sea salt
Sprinkle a little garlic powder, salt and black pepper on the sliced aubergines and courgettes/zucchini. Grease a heavy frying pan with olive oil spray and cook the brinjal slices for 3 or 4 minutes on each side on a moderate heat until golden brown, and set aside. Do the same with the zucchini slices.
Add olive oil to the pan and cook the chopped onions with the chopped garlic and oregano until softened. Add the minced chicken and cook, while working it with a wooden spoon so that it does not form clumps, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the chopped tomatoes along with the ground cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring now and then to prevent sticking. Dissolve 1 Tbsp cornflour in 3 Tbsp water and stir it in, then cook for another three or four minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220℃ and grease a deep oven dish.
Take the cooked chicken off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Stir the 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, lemon juice and zest into the yoghurt and season with white pepper and salt. Stir one third of the lemon-garlic yoghurt into the cooled chicken.
Spoon half of the chicken mixture into the oven dish. Lay out half of the eggplant and zucchini, then the remainder of the chicken, then the rest of the vegetables. Spoon the remaining yoghurt on top. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for about half an hour or until the topping has turned golden and delightful. Leave the moussaka out of the oven on a rack for about 20 minutes for it to firm up, before serving. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
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