Pastitsio – Greek Meat and Macaroni Pie
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1kg (2¼ lb) lean ground beef
- 7fl oz (200 ml) red wine
- 14 oz (400g) can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 4 in (10 cm) piece cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp dried oregano, Greek if possible
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 3½ fl oz (100ml) water
- 1½ tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
For the meat sauce:
- 8 tsp salt
- 1 lb 2oz (500g) tubular pasta, such as rigatoni, tubetti or tortiglioni (I used Penne)
- 2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 1¾ oz (50g) Greek kefalotiri cheese or parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- ½ oz (10g) fresh white breadcrumbs
For the pasta:
- 4¼ oz (115g) butter
- 4¼ oz (115g) plain flour
- 1.2 litres (2 pints) whole milk, plus a little extra
- ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the white sauce:
- For the meat sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan, add the onion, garlic and celery and fry until just beginning to brown. Add the minced beef and fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon as it browns.
- Add the red wine, tomatoes, tomato purée, cinnamon stick, ground cloves, dried and fresh oregano, bay leaves, water, the 1½ teaspoons salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring now and then, until the sauce has thickened but is still nicely moist.
- Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
- For the pasta, bring 4.5 litres/8 pints water to the boil in a large saucepan with the eight teaspoons salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 13 minutes, but take care not to overcook as it will cook a little further in the oven. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool slightly.
- For the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized non-stick saucepan, add the flour and cook, stirring, over a medium heat, for one minute. Gradually beat in the milk, then bring to the boil, stirring. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Stir 9fl oz (250ml) (about one-fifth) of the white sauce into the warm pasta with the beaten eggs and half the grated cheese. Keep the remaining sauce warm over a low heat, stirring now and then and adding more milk if it begins to get a little thick.
- Use the melted butter to grease a large, shallow ovenproof dish that measures about 23cm x 33cm (9in x 13in) across and 7cm (2½in) deep. Spread one-third of the pasta over the base of the dish and cover with half the meat sauce.
- Add another third of the pasta and then the rest of the meat sauce, then cover with a final layer of pasta. Spoon over the remaining white sauce.
- Mix the remaining grated cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the top. Bake for 40 minutes until bubbling hot and golden brown.