Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)

Pastitsio is a delicious Greek Lasagna which you will want to serve over and over. It is so worth the time it takes to make it.

3 lbs. lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

coarse kosher salt

1 package pastitsio noodles or mostaccioli

4 cups or more kasseri cheese, grated or use Asiago or Italian blend

4 eggs

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup flour

5 1/2 cups whole milk

Make the meat sauce one day ahead: In a large pot, add a little olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, cook until onions are translucent. Add the ground beef, cook and stir to crumble until no longer pink. Add tomato sauce and cinnamon, stir and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste. Let the meat sauce stew for 3 hours,  covered. Stir occasionally. Let cool in the refrigerator overnight.

Bring sauce to room temperature or warm gently before layering the pastitsio. Grate the kasseri cheese and set aside.

Cook noodles in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles. When noodles are cool enough to handle, put them in a large bowl and mix one beaten egg into the noodles with your hands.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a lasagna pan, drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom or coat with cooking spray. Put all of the noodles in the bottom of the pan and arrange evenly. Sprinkle with a third of the shredded cheese. Using a slotted spoon, cover the noodles and cheese evenly with all or most of the meat mixture, leaving room for the bechamel layer on top. Sprinkle another third of the cheese over the meat layer.

Make the bechamel sauce in heavy bottomed large pot. Melt 1 stick of butter, add flour and whisk to combine, cook stirring constantly for a minute or two. Slowly add 5 cups of milk, whisking the entire time. Cook and whisk until it just starts to boil. Turn off heat.

In a separate bowl, beat 3 eggs and 1/2 cup milk with a hand mixer. Add this mixture to the heavy bottomed large pot, slowly, whisking constantly.

Put back over medium high heat and cook and whisk until thick and bubbly. Turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 stick of butter. After the bechamel has rested a few minutes, pour it over the meat and cheese layer, spreading evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over. Drizzle the melted butter on top of the cheese, this will brown the top of the pastitsio.

Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until browned and center is hot.

Let pastitsio rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 12


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