Got any special occasion coming up soon? Because I have something special to propose. This creamy and enticingly spiced Baked Pasta. It's Pastitsio. A traditional Greek dish made of layers of macaroni, spiced ground meat & tomato sauce, and topped with a cheesy cream. In other words, heaven on earth!
A Kid Favorite
Pastitsio is a dish that everyone truly enjoys. This was my favorite dish since I was a child and I'm pretty sure every child will love it. Every year at school, a kid would write down a bunch of questions in a book and then pass it around the whole class. Then everyone would write down their answers, to questions like -what do you want to be when you grow up? what's your favorite color? and things like that. Under the question what is your favorite food, the 8 out of 10 answers, would be Pastitsio. Pastitsio was such a hit, as were the answers of -favorite color pink with the girls, and -favorite color blue with the boys.
What's Pastitsio Made Off And What Type Of Pasta To Use
Some describe Pastitsio as Greek Style Lasagna. I think it's better described as a pasta bolognese, topped with cream and baked in the oven. There! More accurate this way since we're missing the lasagna right? And again, some people will usually substitute the macaroni for some penne or rigatoni. For me, penne will do just fine, but I find the rigatoni a bit too hollow for this dish. The reason we use macaroni, after all, is because we want all layers to stick together. And the more hollowed the pasta, the harder it is to achieve that.
My Cheat Sheet 5-Minute To Make Cream
But let's just jump to the recipe now. I can't wait to tell you about my cheat sheet 5-minute To Make Cream. That I so wish, I have discovered sooner. Like in the summer for example, when I was at work and would whisk a 15-liter bechamel cream for 40-minutes on end. Waiting for the cream to thicken, so I could make a Moussaka for 40-50 people. Sooo frustrating...
The problem with a basic bechamel cream is that you first cook the flour with the butter, and then add the milk. This means you will have to wait for the milk to get heated enough, to start and thicken the cream. And meanwhile, you can't stop stirring, because it may burn in mere seconds. But what if you heated the milk first (way more quick) and then add the flour? And that's exactly what I do in this recipe.
I know what you may be thinking now. Will the flour cook this way? And will you be able to taste it? Well, the answer is simple... When you make a Classic Patisserie Cream that's exactly how you add the flour right? And to even think of, that it's a cream that won't even get additionally cooked in the oven (like this one).
Plus, I use a generous amount of light (15% ) cream in this recipe, to make the cream more luscious and velvety like. Now don't think of extra calories because we're talking Pastitsio now and it's simply not the right time 😛
This is basically how you make it:
- Heat the milk, along with the cream.
- In a mixing bowl (affiliate), whisk together the flour with a bit of milk as to form a thick paste. Work until there aren't any... left and then add remaining milk to make it runnier (so you can pour it in).
- Once the milk is close to a boiling point, pour in the flour mixture.
- Whisk until cream is thick enough. It takes only 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside for it to cool for 10 minutes before you incorporate the eggs (unless you want a scrambled egg cream).
- Whisk in the eggs and grated cheese. And season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
- That's it! So simple.
The Spiced Ground Meat & Tomato Sauce
What truly makes this dish stand out though, is the ground meat sauce. Most use ground beef only, in order to make the sauce. But I find it a million times more flavorful if you use a mix of ground pork and beef. Trust me on this one. It isn't just me. if I was to judge from everyone's reactions. Every time I make it with just beef, it's mmm nice, delicious... But when I make it with ground pork also, its WOW this tastes Sooo good!
I think it has to do with the fact that beef doesn't contain enough fat. And pasta seems to need fat in order to be tasty. I mean think about it... We always add bacon, or cheese, or cream... And there are chefs that won't hear of not adding butter to every pasta sauce. Since it makes it nice, and glazy and thick.
That's all. No more words... I've included this picture tutorial, so you can see how easily Pastitsio is made.
Hope you'll enjoy it. And also have a nice and relaxing weekend!
Greek Stuffed Cannelloni Bolognese
A heavenly delicious homemade pasta dish of stuffed cannelloni. So easy to make, using only a crepe batter instead of the classic pasta making method!
Greek Pastitsio With The Easiest, 5-Minute To Make Cream
For The Sauce:
- 500 grams ground beef
- 500 grams ground pork
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 40 ml red wine
- 5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 small tomato grated
- 5-6 pieces of cloves
- 5-6 pieces allspice
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 dried bay leaf
For The Cream:
- 500 grams milk
- 400 grams light cream 15% fat
- 200 grams milk
- 100 grams flour
- 2 eggs
- 50 grams Greek Kefalotyri or Romano cheese grated -plus some extra for adding on top
- ground nutmeg
For The Pasta:
- 350 grams Macaroni for Pastitsio
- 50 grams Greek Kefalotyri or Romano cheese grated
For The Sauce:
- Heat olive oil in a cooking pot over high heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.
- Add the ground meat. Using a wooden spatula break the meat apart. Cook until all meat juices evaporate completely.
- Pour in the wine and wait until it evaporates also.
- Stir in the tomato paste, grated tomato, cloves, allspice, bay leaf and cinnamon.
- Pour in enough water to cover the meat copletely. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens. Takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile make the cream.
For The Cream:
- In a small mixing bowl add the 100 out of the 200 grams milk. Whisk together with the flour to form a thick paste. Whisk in the remaining 100 grams of milk and set aside.
- In a medium-sized cooking pot add the 500 grams of milk along with the 400 grams of cream. Heat over medium-high heat.
- Once it gets to a boiling point (before it starts to boil) pour in the flour mixture. Cook until cream thickens while whisking constantly.
- Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
- Whisk in the eggs and the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg.
For The Pasta:
- Cut pasta in half and boil according to package instructions.
- Transfer pasta into a strainer and cool under cold running water. Let drain well.
- Preheat oven to 220°C / 428°F.
- In a 15x10 inch / 38x25 cm baking dish add ⅔ of the pasta. Sprinkle some cheese on top.
- Spread evenly the sauce on top (if your sauce isn't thick enough, use a skimmer to do it). Sprinkle the remaining cheese(for the pasta) on top.
- Top with the remaining pasta.
- Add the cream evenly on top. Add a generous coating of grated cheese on top of the cream.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. Or until cream looks firm enough, with a nice golden crust on top.
- Let Pastitsio set for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
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