Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Taste of Europe - Serbia (Potato Musaka)

We have really fallen behind - WAY behind - in our food tour of Europe. I suppose that many of the holiday dishes we enjoyed could easily have been counted as part of this project, but I didn't take the time to keep track. Maybe as we get back into the routine of doing schoolwork I will include some of those recipes along the way. For today, I'm backtracking quite a ways to share a recipe from the country of Serbia that I found on Global Table Adventure.

Serbia is a landlocked country in southeastern Europe; its capital, Belgrade, is one of the largest cities in the region. Several Serbian states were established during the Middle Ages, including the Serbian Kingdom in 1217 and the Serbian Empire in 1346. However, by the mid-16th century, all of the territory had been annexed by the Ottoman Empire. A Serbian revolution in the 19th century re-established a constitutional monarchy, but following World War I it was unified with other Slavic peoples into the nation of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s eventually broke apart Yugoslavia, and Serbia was an independent nation again by 2006. Most of the people are ethnic Serbs, and Orthodox Christians are the largest religious group.  The official language is Serbian, which is related to other Slavic languages. Centuries of overlapping influences from East and West have resulted in cultural variety in Serbia, with the northern areas being similar to Eastern European cultures, and the southern areas being more like the Balkans and Mediterranean.

I don't think my pictures do this justice! Potato Musaka is pretty much what it sounds like - a musaka made with potatoes instead of with eggplant. It's a hearty one-dish meal that is rather like scalloped potatoes with the meat mixed in. My kids were very skeptical, because they are not huge fans of scalloped potatoes for some reason, but in the end I think we can all recommend this as a simple, homey meal. Especially for cold winter evenings like the ones we've had lately.

Potato Musaka
4 lbs potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 lb ground beef
onion powder (or 1 onion, chopped), salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 cups milk
salt and pepper

Peel and slice the potatoes thinly - no thicker than 1/4 inch. If using an onion, brown in oil. Add meat and seasonings and cook through. Remove from heat and set aside. Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with oil, then two layers of sliced potatoes. Season. Put the meat mixture on top, then another double layer of potatoes. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper (Be generous with the salt! Also, mix it really well so you don't wind up with little lumps of sour cream like I did. It still tastes fine, just doesn't look as pretty.). Pour the topping into the casserole so the top layer of potatoes isn't quite covered. Bake uncovered at 400* for about an hour, or until the potatoes are tender and starting to brown. If you want, you can brown it under a broiler for a couple of minutes and the end of the bake time. Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

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