Pastitsio could make up a food category all on it’s own!
It’s a mythical dish that usually decorates our sunday lunch ( ..for us sunday lunch is the most important meal of the week!).
Point of reference for the family table, it wakes up emotions of deep intimacy.
A good pastitsio will always remind us of our mother.
It’s a dish that truly demonstrates the emotional bond which grows through the sense of taste.
Folklore has it, that a woman who makes a good pastitsio can keep a man hitched, even if she’s not good at anything else.
Maybe they are right…
- 350gr. #2 macaroni for pastitsio
- 800gr. ground beef meat
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbs. tomato paste
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole pimentos
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 400gr. tomatoes, chopped
- 500gr. concentrated tomato juice
- 2 cubes of bio beef stock
- 1 pinch of sugar
- 80gr. bio all-purpose flour, sifted
- 80ml. extra virgin olive oil
- 1lt. fresh full fat milk, room temperature
- 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 50gr. cheese (kefalotiri, graviera), grated + 150gr. for sprinkling
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan.
Add ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until pink color disappears, about 6 -7 minutes.
Use a whisk so as to break any big chunks of ground beef.
Add onion and cook until it is translucent, about 5 minutes more.
Add whole pimentos and cinnamon sticks, cooking for 3 more minutes.
Add garlic stirring constantly with a spatula for 2 minutes. Do not overcook garlic because meat filling will become bitter!
Season with a bit of salt trying to “build” taste.
When ground beef has a nice light brown color, add tomato paste and stir again.
Add wine and cook until it evaporates.
Add chopped tomatoes and juice, bay leaves, beef stock cubes, sugar and a pinch of salt.
Cover and simmer meat filling for about 45 minutes, until most liquid is absorbed.
Uncover, taste and season with ground pepper and salt if needed according to your taste.
While cooking meat filling, boil spaghetti in salted water, according to packet directions until al dente (about 2 minutes less).
Strain and toss spaghetti with 2tbsp. olive oil, so as they don’t stick together.
Set aside for 5 minutes.
Pour olive oil in a saucepan over low heat.
Add flour and whisk continuously to make a smooth paste or roux.
Allow mixture to cook for a couple of minutes, but do not allow it to brown.
Add milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.
Simmer over low heat till it thickens, but does not boil.
Remove from heat and add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste.
Add the 50gr. of the cheese, stirring constantly until smooth. Taste again.
Toss spaghetti and meat filling in a big bowl.
Brush the bottom and sides of a 28x38cm pan with a film of olive oil.
Sprinkle with some cheese.
Layer the pan with the mixture of the bowl, trying somewhat to be flat, but don’t press down hard!
Sprinkle again with some cheese.
Preheat oven to 175 Celsius degree/fan mode.
Pour béchamel over spaghetti evenly. Spaghetti should be fully covered.
Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top has a nice golden color.
Remove from the oven.
Let it rest for about an hour before you cut in pieces.
Serve at room temperature.