Sunday, November 24, 2013

Greek Pastitsio

One of my favorite comfort foods is Pas
titsio.  It is Greek comfort food like mac & cheese and mash potatoes & gravy for Americans.  I absolutely love it.  It is definitely stick to your ribs comfort food, but it is so well worth it.  My Greek Mama made this for me as a kid  and now I make it for my munchkin.  This is our family recipe.  Yes, it is a lot of work but that is why it taste so good.  The leftovers or even better the next day.  Enjoy.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 - 50 minutes

10 x 12 pan with at least 2 1/2 inch sides(the higher the better)
Place your baking pan on top of a Cookie Sheet the juices sometimes
leak out.  This little extra precaution keeps your oven clean and happy.

Meat Sauce
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 large spanish onion
1 carrot diced
3 large cloves of garlic
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
1 (6oz) small can tomato paste
1 (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of white wine
1 tsp. sugar
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add butter and olive oil, saute onion, carrots and garlic until translucent.  Add Italian seasoning, ground meats and saute until meat is all broken up and evenly browned.  Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and white wine.  Add sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Stir the pot thoroughly.  Cook on medium simmer for 35 to 40 minutes.  Check to make sure you do not burn your sauce.  You should be stirring the pot occasionally through out the cooking time. 

1 pound package of Misko #2 Macaroni found in Greek Grocery Stores
*You can substitute  with ziti pasta
1 Tablespoon of salt for pasta water

4 Tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese or Kefalotyri Cheese (A Greek sharp aged hard cheese)
5 egg whites (save yolks for Creme Bechamel sauce)
Pinch salt and pepper
(Also you will add 1/3 of Bechamel to pasta before layering in baking pan)

In large stock pot filled with boiling water add one Tablespoon of salt to water, boil pasta until tender. Rinse pasta in cold water and drain.  Add pasta back to pot, pour melted butter, grated cheese, pinch salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add egg whites and mix well again.  When bechamel sauce is finished add 1/3 cup or a ladle size to pasta.  I actually use very clean hands and toss pasta gently not to break.

Crema Bechamel Sauce
4 cups room temperature whole milk
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup flour + 1 Tablespoon flour
5 egg yolks beaten
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese or Kefalotyri cheese.
1/4 teaspoon of Grated nutmeg

In a large saute pot, add butter until melted, add flour and using whisk beat until a smooth paste is formed. This is actually called a roux.  Whisk for about a minute.  Slowly add room temperature milk and whisk vigorously.  Continue whisking until Crema is thick and you see the first bubbling on top.  Remove from stove top.  Meanwhile, beat egg yolks in a bowl with whisk.  Add a few spoons of hot crema to eggs and beat with whisk immediately.  Your are now tempering your eggs.  Add the beaten eggs into the rest of the crema in pot and whisk vigorously.  Add cheese, nutmeg and whisk again until all of the mixture is incorporated.  Set to the side. 

Extra Nutmeg and Grated Cheese for Topping right before baking

Oil your baking pan with olive oil.  Be generous this is not a low calorie dish.  You will be doing 2 layers of pasta.  Start with your first layer of prepared pasta and flatten down.  Add a generous amount of meat sauce.  You will have a few cups left over of sauce but you can freeze for another day.  I use it for pasta Bolognese just a touch of heavy cream to the sauce.  Then add your second layer of pasta flatten with palm of hand nicely.  Add your crema and using a spatula spread out evenly.  I then grate some extra nutmeg on top and I use about another 1/4 cup of grated cheese on top, as well.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.  Enjoy with a Greek Salad and a glass of red wine. 

Printer Friendly

Print Friendly and PDF

Print Page