Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pastitsio - Otherwise known as "Greek Lasagna"

I love Sunday dinner.  When I was growing up this meant a couple of different meals at my folks' house.  On Sundays where we didn't have a ton going on, slowly baked pork roasts served with mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed peas or scalloped corn and biscuits with my grandma's strawberry freezer jam. If we were busy, mom would usually doctor up a couple big cans of Chef Boyardee's Spaghetti with a ton of garlic powder and serve Texas Toast that she turned into garlic bread.  Either meal was fabulous and if I close my eyes, I can remember so many details of those wonderful dinners.

Sundays at my house is either a "thing" (i.e. - really good planned out meal) or cereal.  On a recent Sunday night, I turned to my beloved Ina for some inspiration and made this heavenly pastitsio - or as she referred to it, a "Greek lasagna."  This dish was time consuming, yet it made a ton and was heavenly for about three days after I originally made it - it makes for great leftovers.

This is like a relationship in a pan ...

by Ina Garden

For the Tomato Meat Sauce:
    * 3 T. olive oil
    * 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
    * 1 pound lean ground beef
    * 1 pound lean ground lamb **
    * 1/2 C. dry red wine
    * 1 T. minced garlic (3 large cloves)
    * 1 T. ground cinnamon
    * 1 tsp. dried oregano
    * 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
    * Pinch of cayenne pepper
    * 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
    * Salt and freshly ground black pepper

** To be honest?  If I made this again, I would not use lamb. My untrained palate really couldn't tell if the lamb made this better and it was just freakin' spendy.  Use 2 lbs of lean ground beef.  OK, now I'm officially going to foodie hell.

For the Bechamel (Editor's note: Do not be intimated by the bechamel!):

    * 1 1/2 C. whole milk
    * 1 C. heavy cream
    * 4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    * 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
    * 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
    * Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    * 1 1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
    * 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
    * 2/3 C. Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
    * 3/4 pound small shells


For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and 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.

Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I'll be right there in foodie hell with you. I posted a recipe with balogna in it last month. I'm sure there is some kind of law against that in foodie world!

Sunday's are exactly like that in our house too - all or nothing.

This looks great!