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Pastitsio

Traditional Pastitsio is loved by everybody, big or small, young or old. It’s a creamy, cheesy baked pasta dish that is sometimes called the Greek lasagne; however, there are differences. While both are baked pasta dishes, pastitsio is traditionally made with large tubular pasta, a meat and tomato sauce, and topped with a thick béchamel sauce making it very tasty and filling. Pastitsio is a wonderful one-dish meal. Serve large pieces, add a salad and some crusty bread, and the meal is complete!


Ingredients:


600 gr macaroni no. 2 (ziti no. 2)
800 gr minced meat (veal or pork)
300 gr grated cheese
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup white wine
1 onion chopped
3 cups ripe tomatoes chopped (or grated) (or canned tomatoes)
1 t tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
3 – 4 cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoonfuls margarine
Salt, pepper

Béchamel (White) Sauce

5 T butter or margarine (heaped)
10 T flour (heaped)
7 cups milk (non-fat or 1,5% or a mixture of milk and water)
1 – 2 egg yolks
Salt, pepper
A little grated nutmeg, if liked

Instructions:

Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add some salt. Drop the macaroni in the boiling water and cook it until half done, about 4 minutes.
In the meantime, separate the eggs. Beat lightly the whites. Strain the macaroni, return it to the pot. Add the margarine and mix until it melts. When the macaroni cools down a little, add the beaten egg whites and mix well. Add half the grated cheese, sprinkle some salt and pepper and mix again.
In the meantime prepare the mince sauce. Put 2 – 3 tablespoonfuls of oil in a deep frying pan and brown the minced meat together with the onion stirring and breaking up the lumps of meat until there is no pink colour. Add the wine to the pan and allow it to evaporate. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste diluted in a cup of water, the cloves of garlic, the cinnamon stick, the cloves salt and pepper. Simmer to reduce the liquid. Take the pan off the fire, and put it aside. Remove the cinnamon stick and the cloves. Add the rest of the grated cheese (leaving a couple of handfuls to sprinkle on top of the white sauce) and mix well.

Bechamel (White) Sauce.

Place the margarine in a pot and melt it at a low temperature. Do not boil. When it is melted, add the flour and stir continuously until the margarine has been absorbed. Warm up the milk and begin adding it a little at a time, beating well after each addition, so that there are no lumps. Take the pot off the heat. Beat the egg yolks (that you have separated from the whites) and add them to the mixture beating well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The sauce shouldn’t be too thick or too runny. If it is too thick, add some milk or water. If too runny, you should let it simmer at very low heat for a bit longer stirring the mixture every now and then, so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If you are in a hurry you can add a bit more flour, sprinkling it with a strainer so that you don’t get any lumps, and stir. Add the grated nutmeg. Always taste and adjust seasonings before assembling the pastitsio.

Assembling the Pastitsio

Lightly oil a rather large pan 38 x 26 cm (15 x 10 in). Sprinkle a very thin layer of bread crumbs at the bottom. Spread half the macaroni evenly in the pan. Cover them with the minced meat mixture and spread the rest of the macaroni on top. Finally spread the béchamel sauce on top and sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180oC (340o F) for about 50 minutes to one hour, until cooked through and the top is golden brown.
Take the pan out of the oven and let it rest and cool down for half an hour. Then cut it in squares. This pan will give you 12 large squares.

Source: Cooking in Plain Greek
Tuesday, May 1, 2012