So we are going to trace back a couple of months and re-publish a recipe we have already done. One of the reasons we decided to go ahead and do this is because we totally needed some new photos. Also, Zach’s mom is here for a visit. She is Greek and we just had to whip up a batch of pastitsio. Can you call pastitsio a batch? Well we are going to do it either way. A lot of the recipes we whip up this week will be Greek-inspired and we are super excited about it! ANOTHER reason we decided to make this bad boy of a recipe again is because it snowed last night…again. Yup, it snowed. I think this has been a common trend lately. I mean it’s the middle of April people! I guess I would choose snow over rain any day of the week, so maybe I should just stop complaining. Pictures to follow of this mess of a snow storm…I promise.
And this is why we made pastitsio:
Our trip to Utah was wonderful! I am so happy that you asked! Well most of it was wonderful. The parks we visited were just magical: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef and Arches were the four we decided to tackle on this trip and they totally did not disappoint. What is so scary is that I have lived in the United States my whole life and never even knew of these glorious places until 3-4 years ago. Of course I’ve seen the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, but these parks are just as amazing. It’s a wonder we don’t hear about them more often!
I got a great cookbook too! … Full of southwestern dishes and I’ll be whipping (I really like using “whip” today for some reason…have you noticed?) up one of those recipes this weekend that I will be more than happy to share with everyone!
So the part that totally sucked about our trip was the drive back. We planned according to the weather. We knew there was crazy snow heading our way, so we planned around this. Guess what…it didn’t work. It took us almost 8 hours to go 220 miles. It was insane. Cars crashing and sliding, road closures, etc; I’m surprised they kept I-70 open as long as they did (they closed it in sections shortly after we got home). Pastitsio was the perfect comfort food we needed when we got home. It did the job since we were snowed in most of the evening. Oh, and guess what…there is more on the way! Nuts…just nuts.
So onto the pastitsio, Zach has taken a backseat to cooking and posting. He does the technical stuff now, since everyone knows I don’t understand a thing about running a website =). Anyway, this is his recipe and he did the previous post. Here is what he had to say about pastitsio:
“Growing up, my mother always allowed my sister and I to choose what we wanted her to make for dinner on our birthdays. Since pastitsio takes quite a while to make, my mother rarely made it and so I always requested it on my birthday because she couldn’t say “no” then. However, unless you grew up in a Greek family, frequent Greek restaurants, or have had the privilege to travel to Greece, you probably have never heard of Pastitsio (pronounce “pa-STEE-tsee-oh”, and, if you are familiar with the Greek alphabet, the Greek spelling is παστίτσιο). To describe this very traditional Greek dish in a sentence, it is a Greek baked ziti (or lasagna) with a rich lamb/beef tomato sauce and a thick and creamy béchamel sauce, topped with freshly grated cheese. It truly combines some of the most amazing creations in the culinary world, packing loads of flavor and many different textures that will please your taste buds for sure. I use the baked ziti (or lasagna) analogy to give you a visual reference for the dish, however, it tastes very little like a traditional the traditional italian dish due to the addition of unique spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.
Pastitsio consists of three main components: Pasta (ziti), Tomato sauce (with lamb/beef), and Béchamel. These components are prepared separately and layered in that order. While the spices used in pastitsio may at first appear quite strange to you and more likely to appear in a pumpkin pie recipe (or our pumpkin pinwheel cookie sandwiches!), they go very well with lamb and tomato to create a unique, savory sauce that will transport you to the Mediterranean before you can say “Greece”. The béchamel starts by preparing a rouxand adding quite a bit of milk and just a touch of nutmeg and allspice to create a special sauce that tops the dish.
While pastitsio is not a dish that you are going to prepare on a whim (and please, avoid the short cut recipes that are all over the web . . . good meals take time and you will definitely be rewarded by making pastitsio in a traditional fashion), it is a dish that you can prepare on a snowy weekend day or just to treat your significant other to a lovely dinner at home one night. Better yet, if you are going to be attending a potluck in the near future (and we all know that potlucks are like a dime a dozen around the holidays), pastitsio is the perfect dish to prepare since you can almost be guaranteed that nobody else will prepare it and the it will be the talk of the party (lets face it, we all hate going to a potluck and there are 43 salads and 78 store bought baked goods that all resemble cupcakes or pies).
For the beer pairing, well, this is a tough one given the wide range of textures and flavors in pastitsio. However, to accentuate the unique spices in the tomato sauce, I would suggest a harvest ale (like a Märzen brewed with some spices) or even a spiced pumpkin ale (try to go with one that has more spice than pumpkin). These beers will definitely bring out the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and really compliment the dish in general.
So, please take the time to give pastitsio a try . . . I guarantee that you will love this traditional greek dish, or your money back (well, I guess there is no money back guarantee since you are not purchasing anything from us, but, you get the idea.)”
He’s just so cute isn’t he =). Alrighty, tonight we are making stuffed grape leaves. Should be interesting! It’s quite time consuming! Post will be up tomorrow!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground lamb (or beef is you choose not to use lamb)
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 4-5 cloves garlic (minced)
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 pound ziti (or penne)
- 4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef and lamb and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the meat has completely cooked through. Add the onion and garlic to the lamb and beef mixture and continue to cook until the onions are soft and the garlic is very fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously. Pour the white wine into the sauté pan and stir. Allow the wine to reduce by at least half before adding the tomato puree, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Set aside.
- While the tomato sauce is simmering, bring your water for the pasta in a stock pot to a boil. Cook the pasta as per the directions on the packaging except cut back the time by 1-2 minutes so that your noodles don't overcook when you get to the baking step.
- While the pasta is cooking begin preparing the béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Once melted, slowly add the flour, whisking continuously to fully incorporate the fat and flour to make a roux. Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Slowly add the milk to the roux, again whisking continuously. Add the ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and allspice to the béchamel and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, and, while mixing them continuously, slowly add a tablespoon of the béchamel to the yolks at a time. Do this 4 or 5 times to temper the eggs. Then add the egg mixture to the béchamel and whisk to combine fully. Set aside. Note: DO NOT dump the yolks directly into the hot béchamel sauce without tempering them first or else you will end up with scrambled eggs.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Once the pasta is cooked, strain it. Place ½ cup of butter in the empty stock pot and, once melted, add the ziti along with the reserved egg whites. Toss to combine but be careful not to break the noodles.
- To assemble the pastitsio, in a 13 by 9 pyrex baking dish, apply a layer of cooking spray so that the food does not adhere to the dish. Then, spread the ziti across the bottom of the dish, being sure to evenly distribute the noodles. Then, place the tomato sauce on the ziti. Top the tomato sauce with the béchamel, making sure that the entire dish is covered. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top and place in the over, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the cheese and béchamel sauce start to brown slightly. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Hardware: * Saute Pan * Saucepan * Stock Pot * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Cutting Board * Sharp Knife * Wooden Spoons * 9x13in Glass Baking Dish * Whisk * Bowls * Ladle * Colander * Cheese Grater * Spatula *