Pastitsio, a Greek Lasagna

Greek Easter falls usually falls on a different day than traditional Easter so celebrate them both. I like to do a one main dish Greek dish so you can sit around the table, have some wine and enjoy the afternoon with friends and family. One dish that is great to serve is Pastitsio, which takes it name from the Italian dish Pasticcio. There are many versions of this dish from Greece to Egypt, but the Greeks have made it the most famous and of course the most delecious.

There are a lot of ingredients but it is not more difficult than making a traditional meat sauce, béchamel sauce and bringing it together in a pasta dish and baking. Some people make a simpler sauce but it truly carries the dish and makes for an amazing meal that you can serve with a Boston bib lettuce salad, some thinly slice red onions, cherry tomatoes and our special vinaigrette.

If your going to have a close group over, just make the sauce in advance and have friends join in to make the sauce and assemble the dish and bake. Have a few snacks and some wine out when doing the cooking and it makes for a very fun afternoon.

Ingredients

  • SAUCE
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onions, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 celery stocks, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 3 thickly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 chicken livers
  • 1 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 pounds of ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup of full bodied red wine
  • 1 cup milk, heated
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1 28 ounce cans pureed Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 28 ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes strained
This is the perfect constituency of the sauce when fully cooked.
  • BECHAMEL
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup red onion, finally chopped
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 cups whole milk, heated
  • 2 cups heavy cream, heated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 5 extra large egg yokes, lightly beaten and at room temperature
  • PASTA
  • 2 pounds of bucatini (you can also use tubed pasta)
  • 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 ounces of herbed goat cheese, finely crumbled

Making The Sauce

  • Put the prosciutto in the food processor and pulse 10 times for a rough chop, then add the chicken livers and pulse until they are finely chopped
  • Heat milk in sauce pan to hot but do not let bubble, then keep it warm on low flame
  • Heat the broth and tomatoes in a sauce pan until hot
  • Put the oil in the heavy dutch oven and turn heat to medium high.  Add the onion and pepper flakes,  cook for 5 minutes until translucent, but do not brown them, stir frequently.  Add the celery and carrot and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the liver/prosciutto mix, garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, leaving it a little pink.  Crumble up the meat and cook in the pot for 5 minutes until it is a little pink…remember this is going to cook for hours more, stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute
  • Add the wine to the pot and cook it down for 5 minutes or until it evaporates. Don’t be impatient as you do not want a soupy ragu
  • Add the milk and cook until evaporated
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, and the cinnamon, allspice nutmeg and cloves
  • Add the broth/ tomato sauce to the mix and reduce heat to low as well as the two cans of peeked whole tomatoes that have been strained
  • Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally

Making the Béchamel

  • Melt the butter in a medium sized pot over a medium flame. Sauté the red union for 3 minutes and cook for another minute then whisk in the flour, cooking for another 6 minutes to create a pale golden roux, do not let brown
  • Mix the cream and milk in a sauce pan over medium heat until it is very hot but not bubbling, then whisk into the flour slowly over the course of two minutes, whisking madly. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, tablespoon of salt and nutmeg and allspice. Take three cups of the sauce and mix it with the eggs and add that mix back into the rest of the béchamel

Putting it all together

  • Turn the oven to 375 degrees
  • Make the pasta al dente, drain and stir in one cup of the béchamel sauce
  • Take a large baking dish and layer the bottom with 1/3 of the pasta, layer 3 cups of meat sauce on top of that, layer another 1/2 of the pasta on that and the remaining meat sauce. Top with the remaining pasta and top that with the béchamel sauce, Sprinkle the break crumbs and goat cheese over the top
  • Bake on the middle rack for 45 minutes, until it is bubbly and golden brown, let rest for 10 minutes and serve

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