Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pastitsio

I found this recipe somewhere, and it's supposed to be Greek. It took some time to make - no 15 minutes from cupboard to table here - but it smelled superb while cooking. For any real Greek readers out there, including Peter (who must have been the Greek god of excellent food in a previous life), sorry if I didn't make it right. As I tell my older children, I'm doing the best I can given my limited capabilities (for those of you with kids over about age 14, use that line! it shuts them right down). Anyway, some of the kids were coming home from college for the long weekend, and this seemed a suitable way to have dinner hit the table whenever they walked in the door.

Pastitsio

Meat sauce:
2 pounds ground beef
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized onions, diced
2 minced garlic colves
2 thinly slilced celery stalks
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme

1 large can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
Bechamel sauce:
4 cups milk, very warm
1 cup cornstarch or flour

1 stick butter
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup parmesan
Pasta:
1-1/2 pounds ziti or similar shaped pasta
3 eggs
1 cup bechamel sauce

1/4 cup parmesan

Meat Sauce: Heat the olive oil into a dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic & celery and saute until softened. Add the meat and cook until done. Drain the fat off the meat, then stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes and spices. Add the wine and cook for an hour or so, or until the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, make the bechamel sauce:

Bechamel: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and slowly whisk in the cornstarch or flour. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter mixture, whisking constantly. Add the spi
ces, and whisk while cooking until the sauce thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool somewhat, then whisk in the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta 1 to 2 minutes less than the package directions call for, and drain. Drain and cool somewhat. When ready to assemble the meal, return the pasta to its pan, add the beaten eggs, cheese and 1 cup bechamel. Stir together.

Final assembly: Butter the bottom and sides of a large baking dis
h (mine was about 11x14, and it was full). Spread half the pasta in the dish, and cover with half the meat sauce. Add the remaining pasta, top with the remaining meat sauce, and pour the bechamel over it. Sprinkle a good 1/4 cup parmesan over the top (the recipe called for an equal amount of breadcrumbs, which I skipped), and bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. You are supposed to let it stand for 10 minutes before serving; good luck with that.

This served 7 people. My menfolk didn't like the allspice and nutmeg, but swore they'd eat it again without those things. It was a fair amount of work, not my idea of an "I don't cook on weekends" meal, but it was quite good. And, Paula, if you use your gluten free pasta, baby girl can have this, too!

11 comments:

Paula said...

Hi Marjie, Wow, this is really pretty! No kidding about the prep work, but boy it sure looks great. How did you like it? I laughed at your comment about good luck letting it sit before serving! I can just envision your kids circling around waiting for their food. Lucky kids, they are, to have their mom make such a fine meal for them! Shows how much you love them especially since you prefer your food groups to not co-habitate! Truly, though, this is lovely especially on your pretty dishes. I think you're right ... the gluten free pasta would work great here. Thanks!

doggybloggy said...

I think you did an excellent job...this looks really, really good.

noble pig said...

Yum, it looks great and I'm sure tastes even better...so good and hearty!

Peter M said...

Marjie, the meat sauce here is excellent...bravo! The bechamel topping is a little peculiar and it's missing eggs but hey...there's always next time.

Do not hesitate to contact me or any of the other Greek bloggers, we'd be happy to assist.

PS...enough of this Greek god crap! lol

The Blonde Duck said...

Holy crap. I've been on a Greek kick lately and always wanted to try this. What did you think of it? I'd love to make it, even if I have to eat it all myself...

Got an extra freezer handy?

Katherine Aucoin said...

Margie, wow this is definitely a labor intensive dish, but it looks so worth the labor. I can imagine how tasty it is.

Prudy said...

That sounds so yummy. How fun to come home for a weekend for Mom's cooking. Do you have a family picture of your whole family? I'd love to see it.

Marjie said...

Peter, thanks for the offer of help, but I'm usually muddling through it before I realize that I don't know anything. I guess that's the price I pay for a mother who was a "Hamburger Helper Chef".

Everyone, the girls and I really liked it. Like I said, the guys weren't thrilled with the sweeter spices, but I told them to "suck it up!"

Pam said...

I love pastitsio. I use an old Weight Watchers recipe which is probably really, really not authentic!

Kevin said...

That pastitsio looks good and sounds really tasty. Pastitsio is on my short list of things to try making soon.

Grace said...

oh my. even if this wasn't exactly right, how could it ever, EVER be wrong? this is extraordinary food porn. :)