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How to Make Serbian Musaka with Potatoes

Updated on August 19, 2017

This Authentic Serbian Musaka is Made with Potatoes and Ground Beef

You may know musaka as moussaka, but Serbs spell it musaka.

We serve this as one of the dishes in our Slava meal. Because we enjoy it so much, and because it's healthy , we also eat it at other times. I have made the low-fat version here. You can make it a bit richer by substituting sour cream for the plain yogurt (which is how I used to make it). It will also taste a bit richer if you use the full pound of ground beef the recipe calls for. I cooked the full pound and then put half away to use in something else, since we are trying to cut down on meat consumption. If you aren't, use all the beef you cook here. I have always made this with nonfat milk, but use whole or low-fat milk if you like it better.

This dish can be assembled and covered with foil and then refrigerated until you are ready to bake it -- maybe in a day or two. Allow about 90 minutes of baking time in a preheated oven. Assembly time takes about 45 minutes.The recipe serves six adults as a meal.

One nice thing about musaka is that it's even better the second day, so left-overs are very tasty. They are best when reheated in the oven or toaster oven rather than in the microwave, since the crispness of the top potatoes is lost in the microwave. Now, let's make musaka.

All pictures in this lens were taken by me, unless otherwise noted.

Moussaka Ready to Eat

Finished Moussaka (Musaka)
Finished Moussaka (Musaka) | Source

Ingredients for Musaka

Source

Let's Assemble the Ingredients for Musaka - That way we won't forget anything.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (approximately) or sour cream if you want a richer version
  • 2 cups milk. I used non-fat.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 5-6 medium potatoes
  • Olive or other oil. (My mother in law used to use bacon grease for added flavor, but we are trying to use healthy fats.)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • One medium or large onion, chopped

You will need these items to cook the musaka. - If you don't have them, order them now.

To make musaka you will need a large skillet, a one quart glass or plastic measuring cup for liquids, a 3 -quart 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish (I prefer glass), a potato peeler, a good knife to cut potatoes, and a wire whisk. I'm assuming you have most of these, but if you lack one of them, now's the time to get it, since these are all essential kitchen items.

Pyrex Grip-Rite 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish Clear
Pyrex Grip-Rite 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish Clear

This is similar to mine, but this one has longer handles (which is what accounts for it's larger dimensions) than mine, so that it will go in and out of the oven more easily.

 
Source

Before we get started, let's get the musaka baking pan ready.

Measure 3 tablespoons of the olive oil into the baking dish. Tilt the dish up and down and from side to side until the oil is evenly spread on the bottom of the pan. Sorry the picture didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but I think you get the idea.

Now we can start preparing the musaka - First we will brown the ground beef and onion in a large skillet

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is how it should look when the meat is browned.Drain the fat from the meat mixture in colander into a bowl.To save time, I usually cook more ground beef and onion than I need for a dish I'm making and stick half in a bag for the freezer to use in chili or some other main dish later.
This is how it should look when the meat is browned.
This is how it should look when the meat is browned. | Source
Drain the fat from the meat mixture in colander into a bowl.
Drain the fat from the meat mixture in colander into a bowl. | Source
To save time, I usually cook more ground beef and onion than I need for a dish I'm making and stick half in a bag for the freezer to use in chili or some other main dish later.
To save time, I usually cook more ground beef and onion than I need for a dish I'm making and stick half in a bag for the freezer to use in chili or some other main dish later. | Source

This is very handy for blending the topping.

Norpro Balloon Wire Whisk Set of 3 Stainless Steel Stir/Mix/Beat 6" /8"/ 10"
Norpro Balloon Wire Whisk Set of 3 Stainless Steel Stir/Mix/Beat 6" /8"/ 10"

I would have a terrible time in the kitchen without my balloon wire whisks. I've had cheaper versions, but they don't hold up as well and are harder to clean.

 

Let's mix the topping first.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
First, break the four eggs into the quart measuring cup.Beat the eggs with a fork until whites and yolks are well mixed. You should have almost a cup of eggs.Now add yogurt or sour cream until the eggs come up to the 2-cup mark in the cup.Whisk the yogurt and eggs until well blended.Now add milk up to the quart line on the cup and whisk the milk into the egg-yogurt mixture until well blended.
First, break the four eggs into the quart measuring cup.
First, break the four eggs into the quart measuring cup. | Source
Beat the eggs with a fork until whites and yolks are well mixed. You should have almost a cup of eggs.
Beat the eggs with a fork until whites and yolks are well mixed. You should have almost a cup of eggs. | Source
Now add yogurt or sour cream until the eggs come up to the 2-cup mark in the cup.
Now add yogurt or sour cream until the eggs come up to the 2-cup mark in the cup. | Source
Whisk the yogurt and eggs until well blended.
Whisk the yogurt and eggs until well blended. | Source
Now add milk up to the quart line on the cup and whisk the milk into the egg-yogurt mixture until well blended.
Now add milk up to the quart line on the cup and whisk the milk into the egg-yogurt mixture until well blended. | Source

A reliable peeler is essential for making this dish.

Trudeau Peeler, Trutensils
Trudeau Peeler, Trutensils

A great peeler is worth its weight in gold. A poorly performing peeler causes no end of grief. This is reviewed to be a great performer.

 

Now we can assemble the musaka - First let's start peeling and slicing the potatoes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Make your first potato layer about 2-3 potato slices thick so that about a fourth to a third of the depth of the pan is filled. You want the surface to be fairly even. This took me about two and a half potatoes. Sprinkle the layer with salt to taste.Now spread the meat and onion mixture evenly over the potato layer. If you use the full pound of ground beef, your layer won't look as skimpy as mine.Now make another layer of potatoes to completely cover the meat mixture. Keep the top surface as flat as you can. This took me another two and a half potatoes of medium size. Sprinkle this potato layer with salt to taste.Now take the egg/yogurt/milk mixture and pour it evenly over the top of the musaka. If you did the layering right, it should not come all the way up to the top of the pan.Cover the musaka tightly with foil. It helps if you spray the underside of the foil with Pam so the potatoes won't stick to it. I forgot, and some of them stuck. Put it in the oven and cook, covered with the foil, for an hour.When the musaka is done, let it cool for about five minutes in the pan and serve in squares. We had a green salad with this today, and sourdough garlic bread.
Make your first potato layer about 2-3 potato slices thick so that about a fourth to a third of the depth of the pan is filled. You want the surface to be fairly even. This took me about two and a half potatoes. Sprinkle the layer with salt to taste.
Make your first potato layer about 2-3 potato slices thick so that about a fourth to a third of the depth of the pan is filled. You want the surface to be fairly even. This took me about two and a half potatoes. Sprinkle the layer with salt to taste. | Source
Now spread the meat and onion mixture evenly over the potato layer. If you use the full pound of ground beef, your layer won't look as skimpy as mine.
Now spread the meat and onion mixture evenly over the potato layer. If you use the full pound of ground beef, your layer won't look as skimpy as mine. | Source
Now make another layer of potatoes to completely cover the meat mixture. Keep the top surface as flat as you can. This took me another two and a half potatoes of medium size. Sprinkle this potato layer with salt to taste.
Now make another layer of potatoes to completely cover the meat mixture. Keep the top surface as flat as you can. This took me another two and a half potatoes of medium size. Sprinkle this potato layer with salt to taste. | Source
Now take the egg/yogurt/milk mixture and pour it evenly over the top of the musaka. If you did the layering right, it should not come all the way up to the top of the pan.
Now take the egg/yogurt/milk mixture and pour it evenly over the top of the musaka. If you did the layering right, it should not come all the way up to the top of the pan. | Source
Cover the musaka tightly with foil. It helps if you spray the underside of the foil with Pam so the potatoes won't stick to it. I forgot, and some of them stuck. Put it in the oven and cook, covered with the foil, for an hour.
Cover the musaka tightly with foil. It helps if you spray the underside of the foil with Pam so the potatoes won't stick to it. I forgot, and some of them stuck. Put it in the oven and cook, covered with the foil, for an hour. | Source
When the musaka is done, let it cool for about five minutes in the pan and serve in squares. We had a green salad with this today, and sourdough garlic bread.
When the musaka is done, let it cool for about five minutes in the pan and serve in squares. We had a green salad with this today, and sourdough garlic bread. | Source

More about baking and serving the moussaka

The moussaka should bake at 400 degrees F. I cook it covered as shown in the photo for an hour. Then I take the cover off and continue to bake it until it is easy to poke a cooking fork though the potatoes, and the top is golden brown as it is in the last photo. The moussaka is now ready to serve. Cut it into squares for easy removal.

I normally serve this with either a green salad, a three-bean salad, or a Serbian tomato salad. A crusty bread will complete the meal.

Bulgarians Also Make Moussaka with Potatoes

The Greek Version of Moussaka is Made with Eggplant

Do you have a strong preference for moussaka made with either eggplant or potatoes?

Moussaka: Potatoes or Eggplant?

Do you have a preference for making or eating moussaka (musaka) with eggplant or with potatoes? Or do you like it any way you can get it?

© 2009 Barbara Radisavljevic

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