Pastitsio

DSC_0363RECIPE #453, DAY #626

FOUR STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Lamb and Macaroni Pastitsio” from Bert Greene’s Kitchen

TIMING: 1 ½ hours if you are flying through the kitchen

DIFFICULTY: It just takes a lot of pans and time and effort… like lasagna

TOOLS: Saute pan, soup pot, sauce pan, small pan, whisk, beater with bowl, two small bowls, strainer, etc.

COOK TYPE: Stove top and oven

HEALTH: Pasta is at the center of this dish, with plenty of dairy and eggs. Lamb is a great meat to eat, and there are also vegetables, but overall I would say it could do with a green salad.

DSC_0364EXPERIENCE: I tried pastitsio once as a departure from the usual moussaka at a Greek restaurant. While I still love moussaka more, pastitsio is a warming, hearty amalgam of noodles, lamb, tomato sauce, white sauce, Parmesan cheese, and spices, which tastes at once different and homey. I recommend that you give it a try.

If you have plenty of time to make it and then a crew to clean up all the pans. This would make sense as something to make for guests, because it makes a rather large casserole.

NOTES: If you are only making this for your nuclear family, you will want to halve it or make half in a small, foil, baking pan and freeze it for later.

I could have done with 12 ounces macaroni with the rest of the measurements the same.

Make sure you taste all components before you compose them. Each layer should be adequately seasoned.

***

  1. Cook 1 pound macaroni in salted water, according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, brown 1 ½ pounds ground lamb in a deep and wide saute pan. While still browning, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 minced onion. Cook until onion is translucent.
  3. Add 1 pressed clove garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Then add 14 ounces crushed tomatoes, 2 diced fresh tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes until liquid has evaporated.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Whisk in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour for 1 minute.
  5. Whisk in 1 ½ cups chicken stock and—over medium heat—bring to a boil. Whisk in ½ cup cream, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until thickened. Remove from heat.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Separate 4 eggs. Whisk ½ cup hot white sauce into the egg yolks, then slowly whisk the yolks into the white sauce. Set aside.
  8. When the tomato sauce is ready, remove the cinnamon stick and stir in ½ cup Parmesan and ¼ cup bread crumbs. Set aside.
  9. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl or pan, melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter. Stir the butter into the macaroni, then gently fold in the egg whites. Set aside.
  10. Butter a lasagna pan or large casserole dish. Sprinkle with some bread crumbs and Parmesan, then spread out ½ the macaroni. Cover with the tomato-lamb sauce and the rest of the macaroni. Top with the white sauce, then another sprinkling of bread crumbs and
  11. Bake 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

***

Serve with a Greek salad.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: This re-warms nicely, still in the casserole dish. It would also be fine in your lunch box at work.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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