Athens Market Cafe's Pastitsio Recipe
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Athens Market Cafe's Pastitsio
 
8 to 10 servings
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large Spanish onion, chopped
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste

PASTA
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 egg whites
1 cup grated kefalograviera cheese (see note)

BECHAMEL SAUCE
1/4 cup butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups scalded milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste

TOPPING
3 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
To prepare the meat: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until light brown. Add the meat and cook, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until meat is browned and all liquid has evaporated.

Add the wine, parsley, mint, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and allspice and mix well. Turn off the fire, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Combine water and tomato paste and stir into beef mixture. Bring to a boil and let simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

To prepare pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.

Remove pasta from heat, strain and rinse under cold water. In the pot the pasta was cooked in, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Toss in the pasta and stir. Whip egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Pour them over pasta and sprinkle with grated kefalograviera cheese. Mix well.

To prepare bechamel sauce: Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour and cook over low heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not brown. Pour in warm milk slowly while stirring. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Turn off heat and stir in beaten egg yolks with a whisk. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Place half the pasta in the pan, distributing evenly. Top with all of the meat, then the rest of the pasta. Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the casserole. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Note: Kefalogravieria cheese, a Greek sheep's milk cheese, Kasseri cheese can be substituted. Some pastitsio recipes suggest parmesan cheese as a substitute, but the result would be less authentic.

AUTHOR: B2



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