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Pastitsio with Bechamel January 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.

Ingredients >
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoons salt plus more for cooking macaroni and to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper plus more to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon plus a dash nutmeg
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water plus more for cooking macaroni
1 pound pastitsio No. 2 macaroni (Misko brand recommended)
2 cups grated romano cheese
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk (1 quart)
6 eggs, lightly beaten

Method >
In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the beef, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook meat until it begins to turn brown. Add onions, cinnamon stick and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Cook until meat is browned well. Add tomatoes and 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni in salted, boiling water 10 minutes; do not overcook. (If using ziti, cook about 7 minutes.) Rinse and drain well. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil.

Arrange half the macaroni in an 11-by-15-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup grated cheese and cover with meat mixture, spreading evenly over entire surface. Cover with remaining pasta. If using the pastitsio macaroni, arrange it so all the strands line up lengthwise and carefully place them in the pan (this will make the dish look attractive when cut). Sprinkle with 3/4 cup grated cheese.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until golden. Add milk gradually, stirring constantly, until smooth and slightly thickened. Slowly add the eggs, whisking constantly. Cook over very low heat, whisking, about 10 minutes until very thick. Add a dash nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread evenly over macaroni. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.

Bake in 350-degree oven 50 minutes until cream sauce is thick enough to form a top layer (this may cook over so you may want to place it on a baking sheet or strip of heavy-duty foil to protect your oven). Makes 20 servings.

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