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Pastitsio

A classic Greek recipe.  This delicious casserole is wonderful paired with a Greek salad and fresh, crusty bread.

1 pound penne (or other piece pasta), al dente (see notes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb
2 medium onions, diced
˝ cup red wine
12 ounce can tomato sauce
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
˝ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon clove
½ teaspoon cayenne
1½ tablespoons oregano
2 medium bay leaves
S&P to taste
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
˝ cup AP flour
3 cups whole milk
˝ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta, drain and set aside.  In a large saucepan brown the meat and set aside to drain in a colander.  Add the oil to the pan and saute the onions and bay leaves over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.   Return the meat to the pan.

Add the wine and reduce over medium heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, cinnamon, oregano and diced tomatoes.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

While mixture is simmering prepare the béchamel sauce:  melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour whisking constantly until completely combined.  Gradually whisk in the milk until there are no lumps.  Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Whisk in the cayenne, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Add pasta to the lamb mixture and toss to combine; transfer to a 9x13" baking dish.  Pour the béchamel sauce over the top smoothing with the back of a spoon until level.  Bake in a 325° oven for 30 to 40 minutes until browned in spots.

Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes:

  1. The pasta will continue to cook, and to absorb the tomato broth while baking in the oven, so make sure the pasta is undercooked before combining with the lamb mixture.

 

 

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