Pastitsio - baked pasta with meat and creamy bechamel

Oct 15, 2012


   


  Pastitsio consists of bucatini shape pasta( a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the centre ), ground meat, and tomato filling, which are then  topped with creamy béchamel sauce and baked in the oven until golden.  Since everyone likes pasta, pastitsio is a wonderful dish for family gatherings. It brings back childhood memories,- the perfect mummy style comfort food.
     Pastitisio has an Italian origin (pasticcio) but in Italy it is made with lasagna pasta and without the bechamel sauce. I don't know when it was first imported but it was many decades ago and in its altered form it is now considered a classic Greek dish.








Serves 6 (main course) I used a 23x33cm  baking pan

300gr of bucatini pasta

For the filling  :

500gr ground beef
100gr olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
300gr chopped tomatoes
½ tsp ground allspice or cinnamon
1 glass of wine
2 cups (500gr) hot water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated kefalotyri cheese

For the bechamel :

6Tbsps butter
6Tbsps all purpose flour
600gr hot milk
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of grated nutmeg
2 eggs

3Tbsps bread crumbs.


Cook the spaghetti according to its package directions, drain, and reserve.
Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onion until wilted. Add the ground meat, stirring for about 5 min to brown and to break apart any lumps,.
 Add the wine and let it simmer until the wine evaporates (about 2min). Add tomatoes, hot water, all spice, salt and pepper, and let it simmer uncovered for 15-20min. until the juices are concentrated into a thick sauce. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat; add the flour, stirring vigorously until blended and smooth for about 1min and then remove the pan from the heat. Slowly whisk in the hot milk until the sauce thickens; if needed, return the pan to the heat and whisk until the sauce finally thickens; remove from the heat.
In a bowl beat the eggs and gradually beat into the egg mixture a few tablespoons of the bechamel sauce; then whisk this egg mixture back into the pan with the rest of the remaining béchamel, stirring constantly to incorporate. Cover and set aside.

To assemble:
 Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Brush the bottom and sides of your baking pan with olive oil.
Layer the bottom with the spaghetti and press them with a spoon to flatten them a bit.
Sprinkle the grated kefalotyri over the pasta, add the meat filling in an even layer over the macaroni-cheese layer and finally pour the bechamel evenly over the meat filling. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and bake for 50min until golden. Serve warm.





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