pastitsio

Pastitsio is one of  the most beloved of all traditional Greek dishes . Most Greek restaurants around the world, you often can find pastitsio as part of the meal or on the menu. On all occasion they prepared this recipe because this is the special food for them, it’s not complete the occasion without this recipe pastitsio.

Ingredients:

1. ¼ cup extra-virgin Greek olive oil, plus more for the pan

2. 2 medium onions, finely chopped

3. 1  ½ pounds ground lean beef

4. 1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced (optional)

5. 3 cups peeled and chopped plum tomatoes

6. 2 cinnamon sticks

7. 5-6 allspice berries

8. 1 bay leaf

9. Salt and freshly ground black pepper

10. 1 cup dry white wine

11. 1 ½ pounds tubular pasta

12. Grated kefalotyri, to taste

For the Béchamel Sauce

1. 4 tbsp. butter

2. 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour

3. 4-5 cups warm milk

4. Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5. Grated nutmeg, to taste

6. 2 eggs

7. 1 cup grated kefalotyri cheese

Procedure:

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently with a woodenspoon. Add ground meat and continue stirring until meat begins to brown. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, bay leaf, and wine. Stir well to combine. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer until the sauce is thick and the meat is cooked, about 35 to 40 minutes (add water if necessary during cooking). Remove pan from heat; let meat cool slightly. 

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente (it should be a littler firmer than normal). Remove and drain. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to keep it from sticking.

3. Béchamel sauce: In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat, add flour and whisk until the flour is no longer raw and has a nice golden color. Slowly pour in the warm milk, whisking all the while until sauce is creamy and thick but still poorable. Stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat; whisk in vigorously 2 whole eggs. Stir in the grated cheese and set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Lightly grease an 11X15X3-inch baking pan with olive oil.

5. Spread 1/3 of the pasta evenly across the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with grated cheese, spread a ladleful of béchamel evenly on the top. Remove the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf from the meat sauce and spread 1/3 evenly over pasta. Repeat the layers with pasta, béchamel, cheese, meat sauce spreading evenly each time. Top with last layer of pasta, add the remaining meat sauce, sprinkle with grated cheese and pour in the remaining béchamel sauce. 

6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until the béchamel sauce thickens and swells and a golden brown crust forms on top. Let cool slightly and serve.