Friday, January 18, 2013

Lush Pastitsio

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the wine part of the Terlato vertical pairing dinner and promised the recipe, so here it is. Now, it was my first time making Pastitsio and I looked at several recipes, but based mine mostly on this one. Some commented that I was very brave making a dish I’d never made for 14 people,and they are right - I was more than a bit nervous. However, I frequently make red sauce and lasagna and I knew lamb would go well with the Syrah, so I took a chance and am happy to say it turned out well!

Note: this is a bit of a labor/time intensive dish. Including grating the cheese (I was surprised that it took a really really long time to grate the cheese!) and simmering time, it was about 2 hours prepping this, not counting the baking time. I made it in the morning and let it sit in the fridge before transporting it to dinner and baking there.

Lush Pastitsio
  • 2 quarts 2% milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons cup olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cup dry red wine
  • Two 16 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
  • One 16 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano (or 1/2 cup fresh chopped oregano, which is what I used)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 ½ pounds penne
  • 1 ¾ cups freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 large egg yolks
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk until bubbles appear around the edge. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter and whisk over moderately high heat until light golden, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick, about 8 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and ½ tsp ground oregano. Press plastic wrap directly on the sauce and let cool.

2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and brown it in a large pan with 2 tbs olive oil. Transfer the lamb to a platter. (note, the lamb I had was 80/20 so I drained about half the fat once it was browned – the oil in the sauce will soak into the dried pasta and bump up the flavor)
3. Add the shallot to the pan and cook over moderate heat until it is softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, then the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is nearly evaporated. Add the lamb along with the tomatoes and their liquid, the tomato sauce, oregano and sugar. Season the lamb mixture with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat, about ½ hour.

4. Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well, blot dry with paper towels and let cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray or butter a large baking dish (I used an aluminum roasting pan for 25 lbs and used Pam). Line the bottom with one half of the penne. Spread half of the white sauce on top, then cover with the lamb sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Top with the remaining penne. Stir the egg yolks into the remaining white sauce and spread it over the penne. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the pan are golden and the sauce is bubbling. Let the Pastitsio stand for 20 minutes before cutting.

Here’s the before and after:

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