Pastitsio – Greek Meat and Macaroni Pie

Pastitsio – Greek Meat and Macaroni Pie


    For the meat sauce:
  • 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 pasta:
  • 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 white sauce:
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper to taste.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Mix the remaining grated cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the top. Bake for 40 minutes until bubbling hot and golden brown.

Recipe and Photo: Chicho’s Kitchen / CC BY

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