Moussaka with Zucchini
Yield: approximately 8 large servings.

5-6 pounds of mature zucchini, trimmed, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 medium onions, chopped
2 1/2 pounds of ground beef (or lamb)
3 cups of chopped ripe tomatoes with juice (or canned tomatoes)
1 cup of finely ground toasted breadcrumbs
sea salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or a small stick (break off around 1 inch long)
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
6-8 whole cloves
1/2 cup of red wine
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
béchamel with cheese* or 6 cups of basic béchamel**
1 cup of grated kefalotyri cheese (or pecorino or parmigiano reggiano)

For 2 cups Bechamel:
5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups hot whole milk
grated nutmeg
1-3 egg yolks, beaten with a fork

Preheat the frying pan or skillet over low heat.

When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and increase the heat to medium low. Using a wooden spoon, sauté the onions until translucent. Add the meat and continue to sauté until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, 1/2 the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, bay leaves, allspice, cloves, wine, and tomato paste, and mix well. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Note: If there is still liquid in the pan, continue to simmer uncovered, stirring to prevent sticking, until the mixture is as dry as possible. To prevent the final dish from having too much moisture, this step is crucial.

When dry, discard the bay leaves, cloves, and cinnamon stick (if used), and set sauce aside uncovered until ready to use.

While the sauce is simmering:
Make 6 cups of basic béchamel (3x recipe above)

In a saucepan, melt the butter on low heat. As soon as it melts, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps, and increase the heat to medium-low. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly with a whisk, and continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken - creamy without being too thick. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the egg yolks and return to the heat, whisking briskly until well blended. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

Yield: 2 cups

Sauté the zucchini slices until lightly browned.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Lightly oil a large baking or roasting pan and sprinkle the bottom with the remaining breadcrumbs. Place a layer of zucchini slices on the breadcrumbs (it's ok to overlap) and spread the meat mixture evenly on top. Cover with the remaining zucchini slices, and carefully pour the béchamel sauce evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the cheese over the top, and continue to cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove the moussaka from the oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. Moussaka is traditionally eaten warm, not hot, can also be eaten at room temperature, and is great on the second day.