Miss Roommate’s fabulous Greek grandma shared her pastitisio recipe with us. She also gave us a package of awesome Greek noodles…bonus!
For a few hours, our house totally smelled like a grandma house. In a really good way.
Carbs. Meat. Cheese. Cream sauce. If that’s not comfort food, I don’t know what is.
This is a really great recipe to make with some help from a friend. If you have Super Greek Grandma Powers (or you’re really great at handling multiple saucepans at once), it can be done by yourself, but having someone handy to find a spatula, drain the macaroni, and not laugh at you because you’re awkwardly trying to stir three things at once is pretty nice.
2 3/4 cups milk
2 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
We made the cream sauce at the same time as the rest of the pastitisio, but I’m listing it first because “add cream sauce” is part of the main pastitisio recipe. If you’re good at multitasking, run all four burners at once!
Pour the milk into a medium-large saucepan. While it is still cold, stir in the corn starch. Turn the heat to medium-high, and heat the milk (but don’t boil it), stirring constantly. Once it starts to get hot, add the butter. It should melt fairly quickly. Keep stirring. I’m not kidding.
Beat the eggs (or…have someone else beat them, because you’re stirring the sauce) and add them in. Don’t worry about the grated parmesan for now, it gets to hang out until the rest of the dish is assembled. Still stirring? Good.
If you’re multitasking, turn the heat down to very low, and try to remember to give the cream sauce a stir throughout the process. The sauce is heating and thickening, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t burn or get lumpy.
1/2 lb long macaroni (we used Misko Macaroni Pastitsio #2)
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 stick + 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated parmesan
2 shakes (less than 1/4 tsp) cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and, as Miss Roommate’s grandma would say, “butter the hell out of your baking pan.”
Cook the pasta as directed (boil some water, cook the noodles for 10-15 minutes) and drain off the water. Set aside in the heavily-buttered baking dish you’ll be cooking the pastitisio in.
Sauté the onions with 1 tbsp of butter and a little bit of water. While the onions are going, brown the meat in a large sauté pan. Add in the tomato paste, ketchup, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and stir in the sautéed onions. Turn the heat to low, and continue to brown the meat.
In a small saucepan, brown (but don’t burn) the 1/2 stick of butter. Pour it over the meat, along with the eggs. Stir in the grated parmesan, and transfer to the baking dish with the macaroni and half of the cream sauce. Mix well, so that noodles, meat, cheese, and sauce are evenly distributed in the pan. Pour the remaining cream sauce over top, and sprinkle with the half cup of grated parmesan that you were probably wondering about from before (it’s listed as part of the cream sauce recipe, but it really goes on top).
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Your house will smell like grandma’s house, and your tastebuds will agree that this is worth the wait.
Easy-serving tip: make the pastitisio in advance, and refrigerate/freeze it. Cold pastitisio is much easier to slice, and it reheats spectacularly. Plus, you can focus on your guests instead of juggling saucepans.