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Pastitsio

This delicious Greek classic is a layered, baked dish which includes pasta noodles, ground meat and a béchamel sauce.
Prep Time1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Resting time25 mins
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: pastitsio, pastichio, bechamel, meat sauce
Author: Mia Kouppa

Equipment

  • 9 X 13 inch pan (3 Quarts)

Ingredients

Meat sauce

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • 650 grams ground meat (mixture of veal and pork) approximately 3 cups or 1 1/2 pounds
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade tomato sauce, or store bought tomato sauce ( 875 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon heaping cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup boiling water ( 60 ml)

Pasta

  • 500 grams Greek pasta, we use Misko Pastitsio No.2 ( about 1 1/4 lbs)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Bechamel

  • 1/4 cup Greek olive oil (60 ml)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (42 grams)
  • 1 liter milk
  • 4 eggs beaten

Assembly

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Greek olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons Greek mizithra cheese ( 45 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon Greek mizithra cheese to sprinkle on top of bechamel

Instructions

For the meat sauce and pasta

  • Finely chop 1/2 medium onion and cook in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until softened.
  • Add the meat, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, cinnamon and 1/4 cup boiling water to the pot.  Cook for 45 minutes over medium heat, uncovered.
  • Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water.  Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the water. When the water has come to a boil, add the pasta. Cook as per package directions.  Despite the fact that this pasta will go into the oven when the pastitsio is baking, cook the noodles until they are edible; do not under cook the pasta.
  • Once pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.

For the Bechamel

  • Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan over high heat.
  • Add flour and mix continuously so that flour does not burn and cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. You don’t want your flour to brown.
  • Slowly add 1 liter of milk and then slowly stream in 4 beaten eggs. You must stir this mixture constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk.
  • Cook béchamel sauce for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat, while stirring constantly, until it has thickened but is still easily poured. You can tell if your sauce is ready if it coats a wooden spoon and you can draw a line across it with your finger.

To assemble

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. You will bake on center rack.
  • Take a 9 X 13 inch baking pan and grease it with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Sprinkle about 1/2 tablespoon of mizithra on bottom of pan
  • Layer half the pasta on the bottom of the pan.  Toss with 2 1/2 tablespoons of mizithra until evenly coated.
  • Using a slotted spoon, spread the meat mixture over the pasta.  The slotted spoon is important as your meat sauce might have a fair amount of liquid and you want to drain most of this off. You can use as much of the meat as you would like but be sure that there is a fine layer of meat covering all of the pasta, as shown above.
  • Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg on top of the meat.
  • Spread the rest of the pasta on top of the meat mixture and then top this layer of pasta with 1/4 cup grated mizithra cheese.
  • Pour the prepared béchamel sauce over the pasta.  Use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly, ensuring that all of the noodles are covered with sauce.
  • Then, take a fork and insert it in several areas over the pastitsio and wiggle it around.  This will help the béchamel seep in between the top layer of the noodles.
  • Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon of mizithra on top of the béchamel.
  • Bake pastitsio on the center rack of oven, uncovered, for approximately 50 minutes.  Keep an eye on your pastitsio.  You may want to turn your pan halfway through the cooking process if it is browning unevenly.  You may also want to set  your oven to broil for the last minute of baking in order to brown it more significantly on top
  • Let sit for 20-30 minutes before cutting and serving.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

You can use any type of milk you'd like.. we like to use Lactose Free milk 2%
You can substitute Greek Mizithra cheese, by using parmesan and Romano cheese