We’d decided that Sunday Dinner was going to be a “pull something out of the freezer” job.
Earlier in January we’d scored for some elk and venison mince in Cheapskate’s Parade – a corner section at our local supermarket where they flog off coming-up-to-the-end-of-its-shelf-life stuff.
Sometimes it’s great to have a supermarket that constantly seems to overestimate its clientèle’s desire for quality produce – if you time it right you can be on the receiving end of some serious bargains. 1.5kg of minced / ground elk for less than 50 Swedish crowns? A similar amount of venison for roughly the same price? One doesn’t mind if one does.
So, the question was elk, or venison? A quick show of hands gave the nod to elk.
For reasons I’m at a loss to explain, the idea of making a moussaka occurred to me. Perhaps it was some sort of aubergine withdrawal influencing my decision making processes. Probably another one for the “best not to ask” file.
Layers of meat sauce and aubergine – so far so Paleo. In our pre-Paleo days, I would have topped off the dish with a layer of Béchamel sauce, which is, it has to be noted, is about as un-Paleo friendly as it’s possible to get with so few ingredients!
A quick search for a possible Paleo Béchamel sauce turned up this beauty over at The Iron You. Mike had even used it on top of his moussaka! Result.
Well, mes amis, I can now testify that Elk moussaka is a real winner, and not only that, but the Paleo Béchamel was superb. The cauliflower gave it the consistency of a traditional Béchamel, and it set exactly as you would have hoped it would. Good news.
Elk Moussaka With a Paleo Béchamel Sauce
- 1.5kg minced / ground elk meat
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- olive oil
- 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 4 medium aubergines
- 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 600g frozen cauliflower
- 350ml almond milk
- 6 eggs, beaten
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 200° C.
- Top and tail the aubergines. Slice them lengthways into 7 / 8mm thick slices.
- Heat up a grill pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, and grill them until tender and golden on both sides, about 5 minutes a side. Set aside.
- In a large non-stick lidded pan, heat about 4 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, and stir fry until soft, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the smoked Spanish paprika and the minced garlic. Stir fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and the Herbes de Provence. Stir well.
- Add the minced / ground elk meat, and mix well. Stir fry until the meat has lost its raw, pink colour, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the tomato purée, and stir well. Add about 2 dl of water, stir well, and cover the pan with its lid. Cook the meat on a low simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. After 20 minutes, remove the lid, and cook for about another 5 minutes or so, in order to cook off any excess liquid. Once the meat is cooked, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Grease a medium sized deep oven dish with olive oil. Place half the aubergine slices on the bottom of the dish. Place half the meat mixture on top of the meat mixture. Repeat the layers of aubergine and meat.
- Make the sauce. Place the frozen cauliflower florets in a pan. Cover with cold water, and add about 1 tsp of salt. Bring up to a boil, drop to a simmer, and cook for 6 minutes. Drain the cauliflower, and allow to cool somewhat. Season with black pepper to taste.
- Add the almond milk, and purée the cauliflower with a hand / immersion / stick blender. Add the beaten eggs to the cauliflower purée a little at a time, incorporating them into the cauliflower purée with the hand / immersion / stick blender.
- Carefully pour the sauce over the top layer of meat in the oven dish. Place the dish in the middle of the hot oven, and bake until the sauce has set and turned golden brown in colour, approximately 45 minutes or so. Keep a close eye on things after the 30 minute mark.
- Once the moussaka is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so. Serve with the side of your choice. We went with Brussels sprouts with bacon and sesame seeds.