Pastitsio is a Greek dish traditionally made with tubular pasta. However it can be made with Ziti, Penne or Elbow Macaroni as well. Whenever I happen to find tubular pasta at a specialty grocer I get it, just so I can make Pastitsio. I like to call this the Greek version of lasagne, but it has a bit more complexity, adding a delicious bechamel which forms the top crust.
Warning: this meal takes some time to make.
1 lb tubular pasta or ziti
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1.5 lbs ground beef
3 cups chopped plum tomatoes or the equivalent in canned dice tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1+ teaspoon sugar to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
15-20 crushed peppercorns or 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 + teaspoons salt to taste
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup extra parmesan cheese
Fill your largest pot with water. We use filtered water from the tank. It’s so clean we drink it right from the tap. Bring the pot of water to a boil, then add your pasta.
Boil until just al dente. Better to under cook than over cook as it will cook again baked in the oven.
Drain your pasta. Make sure your colander is big enough for your pasta! Oops.
Lay your pasta in a 12″ casserole. Then add 4 tablespoons butter to the same large pot and melt on the stove.
Pour the melted butter over the pasta and mix in with your hands. Next beat the 2 eggs and pour that over the pasta as well. Again, mix in with your hands.
Next add the parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Mix into the pasta with your hands and set aside while you make the meat sauce.
Brown the ground beef, onions and garlic.
Then add the rest of the ingredients (where I got so busy I forgot to take pictures. But you get the idea.) and let cook for 30 minutes.
If you haven’t yet figured this out, this is not a make-it-quick-while-you’re-hungry kind of meal. Make sure your guest are content on deck with a drink (preferably Retsina) and appetizers (preferably Dolmades …recipe coming soon… ) as the preparation for the meal is only about half way there…
Pour the meat sauce onto the pasta and gently mix in. Preheat your galley oven to 350 degrees and clean out your large pot, as you will be using it again.
Now it’s time to make the bechamel, which all begins with a white sauce. In the same large pot melt the butter, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Take off the burner and let cool down a bit so it’s no longer hot. You don’t want the eggs to cook when you add them. Next step…
Once the sauce has cooled down whip in the 4 beaten eggs.
Pour the sauce evenly over the top of the pasta.
Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup parmesan and gate on some nutmeg if you’d like.
Place in your preheated oven. Cook for about one hour or until puffed up and golden brown on top.
Now THIS is Pastitsio:!
If you used tubular pasta you can get that great “honey comb” look as you cut through the pasta. As pretty as it is tasty!
Served with a Greek Salad, this was well worth the wait! If there are any of you Greek chefs out there, we’d love to hear from you! Is this the way you make Pastitsio? Will you share your secrets with a bunch of PIRATES??