Updated: Dec 28, 2021
Prep Time 15 minutes - Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Get a taste of Greece at home with my Pastitsio.
Pastitsio is a Greek pasta dish that is made with beef, a béchamel sauce and baked in the oven similar to a lasagna in some ways. This recipe was taught to me by my Greek friend Emilio and although it won’t be as good as his, it’s definitely a winner in my house and I’m sure it will be in yours.
Now like a lasagna it’s a labour of love as there are 3 different stages you need to tackle, the pasta, the sauce and the beef filling. Definitely, a weekend dish and I’m my house the perfect Sunday dinner with leftovers for Monday lunch, but whatever day you have it you won’t be disappointed.
(You will also find this recipe on page 80 of my book Richard’s Family Favourites click here)
1 kg of good quality mince beef.
2 medium onions, roughly diced.
2 garlic cloves, finely diced.
4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only.
3 tbsps of tomato purée.
100 ml of red wine vinegar.
400 g of passata.
1 tsp of ground nutmeg.
2 bay leaves.
1 beef stockpot.
1 handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped.
500 g of pastitsio pasta or penne.
2 whole eggs.
50 g of feta.
Béchamel Sauce Ingredients
100 g of butter.
100 g of plain flour.
650 ml of full-fat milk.
2 egg yolks.
1 tsp of ground nutmeg.
50 g of parmesan cheese, grated.
Into a large casserole dish drizzle enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Season the beef, add to the dish and cook over a high heat for 10-15 minutes. You're looking at getting a good bit of colour on it. What will happen is it will start to fry then as it does the liquid will come out of the meat, so just keep frying till that goes then it will start to get golden and crispy. Once done remove and place to one side. If need be do this in 2 batches.
Into the same dish add a little drizzle of oil and add the onions, garlic, thyme and season. Cook over a medium to low heat for 5 minutes or till softened.
Return the beef to the dish, add the tomato purée and allow that to cook out for a couple of minutes. Pour in the vinegar, give that a minute then add the passata, nutmeg, bay leaves and stockpot. Season and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes or till any liquid has almost gone. Once done check for seasoning and place to one side to cool.
While the beef is doing its thing, cook the pasta according to the packet. Once done drain and rinse under cold water, then pop to one side.
For the bechamel sauce, add the butter to a saucepan and over a low heat and slowly melt, should only take around 3 minutes. Then add the flour and mix to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next, turn up the heat slightly and start to gradually add the milk a little at a time whisking to prevent any lumps. Once it starts to thicken up add more milk and continue whisking, repeat this till you’ve used up all the milk. Once done take off the heat, add the nutmeg, cheese, eggs, season, mix and allow to cool.
Once everything is cooked and cooled it's time to build the pastitsio. Take a deep ovenproof dish and add the paste along with the 2 remaining whole eggs, half of the parsley and mix all together. Then spread out evenly in one layer, take the feta and crumble on top. Take the other half of the parsley and add that to the beef as well as adding a ladle full of the bechamel sauce and mixing together. Now spread the beef over the pasta covering evenly. And finally, pour over the bechamel sauce making sure to cover everything.
Now pop into a preheated oven set at 180℃ for 40 minutes or till golden. Once out of the oven cover with a tea towel and leave to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This allows it to set, but if you can’t wait just tuck straight in.