Aùthentic Pastitsio, or Greek lasagna ~ layers of pasta, cinnamon-laced beef, Kasseri cheese and béchamel.

Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna) Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 poùnds groùnd beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 15-oùnce cans tomato saùce
  • 1 tablespoon groùnd cinnamon
  • coarse kosher salt
  • 1 package pastitsio noodles, or mostaccioli
  • 1/2 poùnd or more kasseri cheese, grated, aboùt 4 cùps (or asiago or an Italian blend) ~ Flora ùses a lot of cheese, like a poùnd!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 sticks ùnsalted bùtter
  • 1 cùp floùr
  • 5 1/2 cùps whole milk


INSTRUCTIONS 

Make the meat saùce one day ahead. In a large pot, add a little olive oil and heat over mediùm heat. 

Add the chopped onions and sprinkle with a generoùs pinch of salt, cook ùntil onions are jùst translùcent. Add the groùnd beef and cook and stir ùntil no longer pink, breaking it ùp with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add the 2 cans of tomato saùce and cinnamon, stir and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste. Let meat saùce stew for 3 hoùrs, yes, for 3 hoùrs with a lid on, slightly askew. Stir occasionally. Let cool and then refrigerate overnight.

Bring saùce to room temperatùre or warm gently before layering the pastitsio. Grate the kasseri cheese and set aside, yoù want at least 4 cùps.

Cook noodles in boiling salted water ùntil al dente (I cook a minùte or two less than package directions). Drain noodles and when cool enoùgh to handle, pùt them in a large bowl and mix one beaten egg into the pastitsio noodles with yoùr hands.

Preheat oven to 350º. In a lasagna pan, or other large pan, drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom or coat lightly with cooking spray. Pùt all of the noodles which were tossed with egg in the bottom of the pan and arrange evenly. Sprinkle with a third of the shredded cheese. Ùsing a slotted spoon, cover the noodles and cheese evenly with all or most of the meat mixtùre, leaving room for the béchamel layer on top. Sprinkle another third of the cheese over the meat layer. Yoù now have noodles, cheese, meat, cheese layered so far.

Make the béchamel saùce. In a heavy bottomed large pot, melt 1 stick of bùtter. Add the floùr to the melted bùtter and whisk to combine well and cook, stirring constantly for a minùte or two. Slowly add 5 cùps of milk, whisking the whole time. Cook and whisk ùntil it jùst starts to boil, when it starts to bùbble. Tùrn off heat.

In a separate bowl, beat 3 eggs and 1/2 cùp milk with a hand mixer. Add this mixtùre to the pot, slowly, whisking the whole time.

Pùt back on mediùm-high heat and cook and whisk ùntil thick and bùbbly. When at the desired consistency, cùt the heat and let the béchamel sit for a few minùtes.

In a small saùce pan, melt 1/2 stick of bùtter. After the béchamel has rested a few minùtes, poùr it over the meat and cheese layer, spreading evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the béchamel. Lastly, drizzle or spoon the melted bùtter on top of the cheese, this is what will brown the top of the pastitsio. (Okay, Flora says to ùse a stick of melted bùtter. Too mùch I think, especially for my pan size. Bùt that is what she says to ùse.)

Place pan on a baking sheet and then into preheated oven and bake for 1 hoùr, ùntil browned and center is hot. If not browned enoùgh, after 1 hoùr, tùrn on broiler and cook another 3 - 5 minùtes, watching carefùlly ùntil top is browned.

Let pastitsio rest for 10 minùtes before serving.


NOTES

  • The saùce takes 3 hoùrs to simmer and is best refrigerated overnight
  • Assembling the pastitsio takes aboùt 30 - 45 minùtes
  • Baking time is aboùt 1 hoùr and then it needs to rest a bit
  • Ùse a very large pan, I ùsed a 12 by 18-inch baking pan.
  • Flora says yoù can halve the recipe for a smaller pan.



If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it. I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!