This looks like a lot of work, but it is really worth it!
2 large Eggplants (about 1 ½ pounds each), sliced into thin ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons Sea Salt, Divided
2 Large Russet Potatoes, Peeled
6 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Divided
1 medium Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean Ground Meat of Choice
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
3/4 cup our Gluten-Free Spaghetti Sauce
1 tablespoon Swerve or Sweetener of choice
2 tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
¾ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
¾ cup Gluten-Free Bread crumbs**
1 recipe Béchamel Sauce (see below)
½ cup grated Manchego Sheep Cheese (or Mozzarella)
2 teaspoons chopped Garlic
½ cup Greek (all goat milk) Feta, crumbled, if desired
Preheat oven to 400⁰ F. Line two large baking sheets with foil or unbleached parchment paper. Lightly oil a 9″ x 13″baking pan.In a large mixing bowl, toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Transfer to a large colander, and sprinkle any salt left in the bowl over the top of the eggplant. Set a small plate on top of the eggplant, and put a weight (such as a large can of vegetables) on top of the plate to help squeeze out more water. Set the colander in the sink to drain for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a large pot of liberally salted water for 13 to 15 minutes. Make sure they are still firm enough to slice without crumbling to pieces. Lift the potatoes out with a slotted spoon, and run under a gentle stream of cold water until cool enough to handle. Slice into ¼ to ½-inch rounds, and set aside.
Rinse the eggplant well, and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange the eggplant slices evenly in 1 layer on the prepared baking sheets. With a large pastry brush, very lightly brush the eggplant with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. You may not need all of the oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, flipping the eggplant halfway through baking. Monitor closely so the eggplant does not burn. Remove from oven, and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
To make the meat sauce, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, breaking up any large pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon, and cook until the meat is browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken broth, spaghetti sauce, fresh parsley, remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, and pepper. Stir to combine well, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
To assemble: Prepare the Béchamel Sauce (see below). Arrange all the sliced potatoes in an even layer at the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Cover the potatoes with half of the eggplant slices, arranged in even rows. Gently spread all of the meat sauce over the top of the eggplant. Top the meat sauce with half of the bread crumbs and half of the cheeses. Cover the bread crumb–cheese layer with the remaining eggplant slices, again arranged in even rows. Top the eggplant with the remaining bread crumbs and cheeses. Pour the Béchamel Sauce evenly over the top of the entire dish.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until heated through and the top begins to brown in spots, monitoring closely to ensure the top does not burn. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, slice, and serve.
**To make bread crumbs: We save all the heels from the loaves of gluten–free bread. We keep a zip-lock bag in the freezer, and when we open a loaf, take the heels out, and put them in the freezer bag. We have them ready when we need them for crumbs. However, you can use regular slices, too. Tear slices of bread into at least four pieces. Put a few pieces at a time into your blender. With the blender lid on, pulse the bread until crumbs form.
Béchamel (BEH-shah-mel) Sauce
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted Butter
½ cup Gluten-Free Flour
4 cups Hot (not boiling) Goat Milk
2 Egg Yolks, beaten
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
¼ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
¼ cup Grated Manchego Sheep Cheese
¼ cup (do not use extra) soft, white Goat Cheese or Cream Cheese
Melt the butter slowly in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, being careful not burn or brown it. Slowly add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, and mix until smooth. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the flour is golden and smells toasty. Do not brown.
Remove from heat, and very slowly pour in the hot milk, stirring constantly. Set the sauce back over medium heat, and simmer while stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Temper the egg yolks in a large, heatproof mixing bowl by slowly adding about 1 cup of the hot sauce to them, stirring quickly. Then slowly stir the tempered egg yolks to the milk mixture. If the Béchamel seems too thick at this point, do not panic. Continue to stir and stir, and eventually it will lighten up and become smooth again. Add the salt, pepper, grated sheep cheese, and soft white goat cheese, stirring to combine well. Use immediately.