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Serves 12-15
Preparation: 1h 15’
Cooking: 1h

Ok, people, brace yourselves. This is the ultimate pasta dish for dinner parties.

It takes a while to prepare, but trust me, it is absolutely worth it. Your friends will always praise you for it. This is something I cook for the family as well, usually on Sundays leaving plenty of leftovers for the week ahead.

 

Meat Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg (2 ¼ lbs.) ground beef  (preferably steak mince)
1 average onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
fresh chopped parsley or oregano
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes or 2 large grated tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
3 cherry peppers (optional)

 

Béchamel Sauce
10 tbsp butter or margarine
14 tbsp flour
6 cups warm milk (1 ½ lt or 3,3 lbs)
salt and pepper
nutmeg
1 cup grated cheese, preferably Greek kefalotiri or pecorino
4 eggs
 

Noodles

500gr (1 ¼ lb.) pasticcio (macaroni) noodles (as in the picture)
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 ½ cups grated cheese, preferably Greek kefalotiri or pecorino

For the Meat Sauce
Heat olive oil in pan and sauté the onions, garlic and meat until browned. Add remaining ingredients. Be generous with the spices and taste regularly. Be sure there is enough salt to bring out the flavour. I always add quite a bit more than the recipe calls for. Let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes. Turn off and stir until slightly cooled.

For the Béchamel
Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Add the flour and whisk for about 1 minute. Add the milk all at once and whisk until sauce is thickened and smooth. I usually heat the milk in another pan or in the microwave before adding. Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t look smooth straight away, just keep whisking. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. I add quite a healthy dose of each, probably at least 1/2-1 teaspoon. Remove from heat, allow to cool before adding the whisked eggs and cheese stirring until smooth.

For the noodles
Bring water to a boil with salt. Cook noodles until tender but slightly firm. Drain very well and return to pan. Stir in butter.

Assembly
Preheat oven to 200oC/ 400oF/ Gas Mark 6. Butter a large, deep pan (lasagne pan works well). You can see by the amount of ingredients you have, this makes a large dish and serves at least 12 people.

Put half the noodles in the pan and sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Top the noodles with the meat sauce. I usually remove the cloves, cherry peppers and cinnamon stick prior to that. Place the rest of the noodles on the meat sauce and sprinkle with 1 more cup of the cheese. Pour the béchamel over the top. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Some of the noodles may be sticking through the top which is good because they get brown and crunchy in the oven. Bake for one hour or until top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let sit at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serve with green salad and red wine. Bon Appetit!

Food for thought

Ok, this is rather heavy, but the pasticcio is guaranteed to ease the anxiety.
http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/09/04/opinion/04reich-graphic.html?ref=sunday

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