Lamb and Beef Pastitsio


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 ground lamb (or beef is you choose not to use lamb)
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
4-5 cloves garlic (minced)
1 cup white wine
2 cups tomato puree
2 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 + 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 + 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound ziti (or penne)
4 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
1 + 1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups whole milk
fresh ground black pepper


Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ground beer and lamb and cook for 5-6 minutes, or just until you do not see any more pink.
Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onions are soft and the garlic is very fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Salt and pepper generously.
Pour the white wine into the sauté pan and stir. Allow the wine to reduce by at least half before adding the tomato puree, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is quick thick. Set aside.
While the tomato sauce is simmering, bring your water for the pasta in a stock pot to a boil. Cook the pasta as per the directions on the packaging except cut back the time by 1-2 minutes so that you don’t end up with super mushy noodles in the end.
While the pasta is cooking begin preparing the béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a large sauté pan. Once melted, slowly add the flour, whisking continuously to fully incorporate the fat and flour to make a roux. Continuing whisking for 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
Slowly add the milk to the roux, again whisking continuously.
Add the 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and allspice to the béchamel and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, and, while mixing them continuously, slowly add a tablespoon of the béchamel to the yolks at a time. Do this 4 or 5 times to temper the eggs. Then add the egg mixture to the béchamel and whisk to combine fully. Set aside. Note: DO NOT dump the yolks directly into the hot béchamel sauce without tempering them first or else you will end up with scrambled eggs.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Once the pasta is cooked, strain it. Place 1/2 cup of butter in the empty stock pot and, once melted, add the ziti along with the egg whites. Toss to combine but be careful not to break the noodles.
To assemble the pastitsio, in a 13 by 9 pyrex baking dish, apply a layer of cooking spray so that the food does not adhere to the dish. Then, spread the ziti across the bottom of the dish, being sure to evenly distribute the noodles. Then, place the tomato sauce on the ziti. Top the tomato sauce with the béchamel, making sure that the entire dish is covered. Sprinkle the freshly grated parmesan cheese on top and place in the over, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the cheese and béchamel sauce start to brown slightly. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Serve by cutting square or rectangular pieces (just as if you were serving lasagna).


Growing up, my mother always allowed my sister and I to choose what we wanted her to make for dinner on our birthdays. Since pastitsio takes quite a while to make, my mother rarely made it and so I always requested it on my birthday because she couldn't say "no" then. However, unless you grew up in a Greek family, frequent Greek restaurants, or have had the privilege to travel to Greece, you probably have never heard of Pastitsio (pronounce "pa-STEE-tsee-oh", and, if you are familiar with the Greek alphabet, the Greek spelling is παστίτσιο). To describe this very traditional Greek dish in a sentence, it is a Greek baked ziti (or lasagna) with a rich lamb/beef tomato sauce and a thick and creamy béchamel sauce, topped with freshly grated cheese. It truly combines some of the most amazing creations in the culinary world, packing loads of flavor and many different textures that will please your taste buds for sure. I use the baked zit (or lasagna) analogy to give you a visual reference for the dish, however, it tastes very little like a traditional the traditional italian dish due to the addition of unique spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.

Pastitsio consists of three main components: Pasta (ziti), Tomato sauce (with lamb/beef), and Béchamel. These components are prepared separately and layered in that order. While the spices used in pastitsio may at first appear quite strange to you and more likely to appear in a pumpkin pie recipe (or our <a href="">pumpkin pinwheel cookie sandwiches!</a>), they go very well with lamb and tomato to create a unique, savory sauce that will transport you to the Mediterranean before you can say "Greece". The béchamel starts by preparing a <a href="">roux</a>and adding quite a bit of milk and just a touch of nutmeg and allspice to create a special sauce that tops the dish.

While pastitsio is not a dish that you are going to prepare on a whim (and please, avoid the short cut recipes that are all over the web . . . good meals take time and you will definitely be rewarded by making pastitsio in a traditional fashion), it is a dish that you can prepare on a snowy weekend day or just to treat your significant other to a lovely dinner at home one night. Better yet, if you are going to be attending a potluck in the near future (and we all know that potlucks are like a dime a dozen around the holidays), pastitsio is the perfect dish to prepare since you can almost be guaranteed that nobody else will prepare it and the it will be the talk of the party (lets face it, we all hate going to a potluck and there are 43 salads and 78 store bought baked goods that all resemble cupcakes or pies).

For the beer pairing, well, this is a tough one given the wide range of textures and flavors in pastitsio. However, to accentuate the unique spices in the tomato sauce, I would suggest a harvest ale (like a Märzen brewed with some spices) or even a spiced pumpkin ale (try to go with one that has more spice than pumpkin). These beers will definitely bring out the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and really compliment the dish in general.

So, please take the time to give pastitsio a try . . . I guarantee that you will love this traditional greek dish, or your money back (well, I guess there is no money back guarantee since you are not purchasing anything from us, but, you get the idea.)


Other Names:

Greek Baked Ziti, Lasagna with a Rich Lamb Tomato Sauce and Béchamel


8 Servings


Monday, September 24, 2012 - 7:24pm


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