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Pastitsio

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Level: Intermediate

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Description

Pastitsio is a Greek baked ziti/lasagna with a rich lamb tomato sauce and béchamel.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ pounds Ground Beef
  • ½ pounds Ground Lamb
  • 1 whole Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • 2 cups Tomato Puree
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano, Chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1-½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg, Divided
  • 1-½ teaspoon Ground Allspice, Divided
  • 1 pound Ziti (or Penne)
  • ½ cups Unsalted Butter, Divided
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-¼ cups Whole Milk
  • 4 whole Eggs (Yolks And Whites Separated)
  • 2 Tablespoons Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preparation

Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef and lamb and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the meat has completely cooked through. Add the onion and garlic to the lamb and beef mixture and continue to cook until the onions are soft and the garlic is very fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously.

Pour the white wine into the sauté pan and stir. Allow the wine to reduce by at least half before adding the tomato puree, oregano, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon allspice. Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is quite thick. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

While the tomato sauce is simmering, fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Then add the pasta. Cook the pasta as per the directions on the packaging except cut back the time by 1-2 minutes so that your noodles don’t overcook when you get to the baking step.

While the pasta is cooking begin preparing the béchamel sauce by melting 1/4 cup of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Once melted, slowly add the flour, whisking continuously to fully incorporate the fat and flour to make a roux. Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Slowly add the milk to the roux, again whisking continuously. Add the ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and allspice to the béchamel and let the mixture cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat.

Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, and while mixing them continuously, slowly add a tablespoon of the béchamel to the yolks at a time. Do this 4 or 5 times to temper the eggs. Then add the egg mixture to the pan with the rest of the béchamel and whisk to combine fully. Set aside. Note: Do not dump the yolks directly into the hot béchamel sauce without tempering them first or else you will end up with scrambled eggs.

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Once the pasta is cooked, remove the stock pot from heat and drain the pasta in a colander. Set the hot stock pot aside and place the remaining 1/4 cup of butter into it. Once butter is melted, add the ziti along with the reserved egg whites. Toss to combine but be careful not to break the noodles.

To assemble the pastitsio, in a 13 by 9 Pyrex baking dish, apply a layer of cooking spray so that the food does not adhere to the dish. Then, spread the ziti across the bottom of the dish, being sure to evenly distribute the noodles. Then, place the tomato sauce over the top of the ziti. Top the tomato sauce with the béchamel, making sure that the entire dish is covered.

Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. Place dish in the oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the cheese and béchamel sauce start to brown slightly. Remove pan from oven and set it on a rack. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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