Making Beef & Mushroom Pastitsio
Back in Qatar, what they call Mac & Cheese consists of penne or elbow pasta tossed in a mixture of bechamel and bolognese sauce, piled onto a dish, smothered with mozarella cheese and then baked to perfection. It wasn’t until later on after I stumbled onto one of Rick Stein’s video that I learnt that this was called a pastitsio, a Greek alternative to the Italian lasagna (the Italians also have a similar dish called the Pasticcio - thank you, quasiazzurro). This dish combines the best of the best - creamy pasta akin of Mac & Cheese and hearty bolognese, all layered in the style of a lasagna.
Beef & Mushroom Sauce:
[1 1/2 stalk celery (substituted for one small onion in this post) + 1 onion + 1 medium carrot + 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 cloves garlic, minced + 1 pound ground beef + 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted + 1 cup beef stock (can be substituted with 1/2 cup wine + 1/2 cup stock) + 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (substituted with 4 tomatoes in this post) + 1 teaspoon dried oregano + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika]
Dice all the vegetables.
Gently fry celery, onion, carrot and garlic in olive in a skillet until onion is soft. Increase heat and add ground beef; stir well. Cook until meat begins to brown,
Add tomato sauce or tomatoes, stock, spices and season to taste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
Penne in Bechamel Sauce:
[1 pound penne + 1/2 cup butter + 1/2 cup all purpose flour + 3 cups milk + 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1 egg + salt and pepper to taste]
Boil the penne in salted water.
Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour and cook gently for 2 minutes
Pour in milk gradually while continuously stirring and bring to a boil, stirring constantly
Boil gently for 1 minute. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Drain penne into a large bowl. Add 1/3 of the bechamel and egg into the penne and stir until combined.
[Penne in Bechamel + Beef & Mushroom Sauce] OPTIONAL: Grated cheese (Kefalotyri, mozarella, parmesan etc etc)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Grease ramekins or casserole dish (or whatever oven-proof dish you have) with butter.
Spoon some of the penne mixture evenly in the bottom and top with meat sauce.
Alternate layering the pasta and meat sauce as high as your container will allow, keeping in mind to make the pasta as the top layer.
Pour on cream sauce and spread to completely cover pasta layer.
Sprinkle some cheese (if using) on top.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
I work at a Greek newspaper part-time now, and what i’ve learnt is pastitsio is the greek equivalent to rendang. You cook shitloads and your mum would just slop that on your plate with anything around the house if she’s too lazy to cook!
Is it? (and you got a job at a Greek newspaper? Nice!) Mr & Mrs. Sony are back in Qatar now so there’s no one else to cook for Gina (unless you count the maid, but then again…) It all gets consumed one way or another :D
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