Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pastitsio for National Macaroni Day

We have yet another food holiday to celebrate today! And this one - National Macaroni Day - is an easy one to join in on.

There's macaroni and cheese ... pasta salad ... lots of family favorites.

But ever since having a fabulous dinner at Pegasus in Greektown recently, I'd been craving more pastitsio - an amazing dish of pasta layered with a rich meat sauce and topped with a cheesy custard ... sigh.

Pastitsio has no redeeming nutritional value whatsoever, unless you delude yourself that the fat content is neutralized by the prostate-friendly tomato sauce or that using skim milk in the topping will make it all okay! But sometimes you just need comfort food; and this particular comfort food also makes a great party dish for graduations, showers, or other events at which you'll be feeding a crowd.

It may look as though this requires a lot of work, but it really doesn't; each of the layers is very easy to make. And there aren't too many dirty dishes, either - I don't have a dishwasher, and I still wasn't overwhelmed by the washing afterwards (a saucepan for the custard, a skillet for the meat sauce, a stockpot for the pasta, accoutrements for chopping and stirring).

So please don't feel intimidated when you look over the length of the recipe. As always, just trust me ... this pastitsio is so worth making! It's rich, luscious, substantial, and a universal favorite ... :)


Pasta Layer:
8 ounces macaroni

Meat Sauce:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 small onion, chopped
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup red wine

Cream Sauce:
1/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare macaroni according to package directions.

Cook the beef and lamb over medium-high heat in a large skillet until only slightly pink; add the onion and cook until meat is browned, then drain. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg; cook for 1 minute. Add wine, and cook for 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.

Grease a 9"x13" baking dish. Spread just over one-half of the macaroni over the bottom of the dish.

Top with the meat sauce, spreading it carefully.

Spread the remaining macaroni over the meat sauce.

Set aside while making the cream sauce.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk, incorporating each addition before adding the next. Add the salt and nutmeg; cook for 5 minutes, until thickened.

Place the eggs into a small bowl, and add 1/2 cup of the cream sauce to them; whisk until blended, then stir the eggs into the saucepan with the rest of the sauce. Stir in the grated parmesan.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, spreading to make sure everything is covered. Sprinkle the shredded parmesan over the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top of the pastitsio is golden brown.

Let the pastitsio rest for 5 minutes before cutting into squares. Start with smaller portions, as it's very rich; you can always come back for seconds ... and I can promise that you will!


Jenn said...

My first experience with Pastitsio was at a friend of mine's house. His mom had a recipe that was past down from her great great great grandmother or something far back like that. She had never given the recipe to anyone outside the family, but she gave it to me.... and I proceeded to loose it not 5 days later!!! UGH!! I was too embarrassed at that time to ask for another copy of it!! Now I can just uses yours :)

Candace said...

oooh, this looks delicious! Pasta for my carb addicted family.....a Greek twist to feed my current cravings. Absolute perfection, Mary!

Karen Harris said...

I love deluding my self when it comes to my favorite foods and this is one of them. I may have to make some in celebration.

Cranberry Morning said...

You come up with the most interesting things, Mary! That description makes me want to go to the restaurant with you. :-) Unfortunately, pasta is my nemesis. Anytime I start watching what I eat and keeping a food journal, it's always pasta that lures me away from my best-laid plans.

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Oh yeah that's comfort food for sure!! It sounds amazing, I mean come on, pasta, meat sauce - Greek style no less (an awesome thing for me the Greek food lover!) and cheesy custardy sauce? How absolutely delicious! I am bookmarking this one - next time I need to feed a crowd I'm going to this recipe :)

Miriam said...

I don't have a dishwasher either!! Great dish :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Kathleen said...

This looks ah-mazing!

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