Monday, September 12, 2011

OMGosh was this Delicious! Pastitsio Lynne's Way

I went to the Greek Festival a few Friday's ago at the urging of a friend who was once married to a Greek.  She has 3 sons who love Greek food and she still loves it to this day.  We went when admission was free and had lunch there.  They had a full on cafeteria style Greek food set up.  I ordered Pastitsio, but I was torn between that and Moussaka.  I love eggplant.

Pastitsio as I had remembered it was like a lasagna with a cheese sauce on top.  The Pastitsio at the Greek Festival was good, but I remember making it at home a few years ago and decided I would do it again.  I bought what they called uncut macaroni at the Greek Festival.  They had used that noodle in their dish and I thought it was really fun.  It was a tube as long as spaghetti.  I've looked around at the grocery stores near me and that might have been the last bag I'll see until the next Greek Festival.  Or you can order some at this link.  I bought this Misko brand at the Greek festival and all the writing on the package is in Greek.  It made me chuckle when I went to read the instructions on how to cook it.  "It's all Greek to me."

I didn't get a picture of my Pastitsio, but this blog has a great picture of their version of Pastitsio.

I looked for Pastitsio recipes online and found 3 that sort of fit the bill.  I liked a little bit of each of them and decided I'd do just the parts I liked and make my own vision of Pastitsio.  One noticeable thing I changed was the amount of cinnamon.  2 recipes called for 1 tsp and the other recipe called for 1 tablespoon.  I recalled from the last time I made Pastitsio and the reason I haven't made it since was the cinnamon over powered the whole dish.  I didn't want to leave it out entirely, but I wanted to greatly reduce it.

Another thing the recipes said it would feed 8 people.  This made a giant Pastitsio that would feed at least 12 people.  Maybe the Greeks have bigger appetites.

Pastitsio Lynne's Way

3 T Olive Oil
1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes in puree
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups grated Pecorino Romano
1 pound uncut macaroni (can use macaroni, ziti, penne, small shells)

4 T unsalted butter
4 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups Parmesan
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Greek style yogurt or sour cream

For sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in large pan.  Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the beef and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink.  Drain off any excess liquid.  Add garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and cayenne and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and simmer stirring occasionally for 35 minutes.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.  Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked.  Drain and set aside.

For the Bechamel, melt butter in medium sauce pan.  Add flour and cook over medium heat.  Pour cold milk and cream into the butter and flour mixture whisking constantly.  Continue cooking and stirring over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until smooth and thick.  Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.

Preheat the over to 350 degrees F.

Place a 1/4 of grated Romano cheese in a 11 X 14 inch pan and then layer with 1/3 of the pasta.  Continue until both ingredients are used up.  Spread on the meat sauce.  Pour the Bechamel on top of the meat sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 1 hour until golden brown and bubbly.  Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.
Serves 12.

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