The Ingredient That Will Give Your Moussaka A Huge Flavor Boost

Of the many culinary wonders that have emerged from the nations that border the Mediterranean Sea, Greece's moussaka has to be one of the most unique. A traditional layered casserole, moussaka is built on a base of baked eggplant, which is covered in a thick tomato sauce seasoned with spices and ground lamb and all coated generously in a glorious béchamel sauce. 

As moussaka is one of those comfort foods whose recipe differs from town to town and family to family, there is no real worry about missing out on an "authentic" recipe. Potatoes and zucchini are common additions, but if you really want to boost the flavor, you need to add some cheese. 

Moussaka and cheese are no strangers. In fact, many recipes call for cheese to be sprinkled on top of the béchamel as it bakes in the oven. This gives the casserole a nice, bubbling crust, but it doesn't do too much to amplify the flavors of the entire dish. For that, you need to go farther and actually incorporate the cheese as if it were a main ingredient, as opposed to a simple garnish. 

Add cheese to the béchamel sauce or layer it up

There are a few directions one could go with adding cheese to moussaka. One of the easiest and most decadent ways is to add cheese to the béchamel sauce, turning it into a mornay, the cheesiest of the five French mother sauces. As the sauce is an integral part of the moussaka, adding the cheese will bring about a richness and depth of flavor. Taking a cue from moussaka's Italian cousin, lasagna, you could also integrate the cheese in between the layers of vegetables and sauce.

As for what kind of cheese to use, it depends on your taste. You could go with something mild and fresh like a farmhouse cheese. However, if you're looking for something that will really pop with tangy flavor, consider traditional Greek kefalotyri cheese. It's an ancient sheep's milk cheese with a strong taste that complements the lamb meat and spices. Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, and Gruyère are all excellent alternatives and much easier to find that kefalotyri.