Delphi, Greece
Delphi, Greece
Ball, David
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Pastitsio for a Crowd



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Pastitsio for a Crowd
Beard on Pasta
by James Beard, 1983, Alfred A. Knopf

“This is one of the best Greek dishes I know, a good oven dish that’s very rich
and full flavored. It comes from Leon Lianides, the owner of the Coach House. Patrons of the Coach House know that you can’t get Greek dishes there; for
that, you have to visit Leon at his home.”

[12 servings]

1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 pounds ground lean beef
2 pounds ground lean lamb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup dry red wine 
7 cups light cream
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
Good pinch of nutmeg
10 egg yolks
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1 1/2 pounds elbow macaroni or ziti
1 1/2 cups grated Romano cheese

First make your meat sauce: In  a large skillet, cook the onion in 3 tablespoons butter. When the onion is transparent, add the garlic and
cook for 2 minutes. Add the meats and cook over high heat, breaking it
up with a wooden spoon until the meat is no longer red. Season with
1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the tomato sauce, oregano, cinnamon, basil, bay leaf, parsley, and wine. Cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. This meat sauce
can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator or freezer until
you are ready to use it. I never think that far ahead about what I plan to
eat, but it’s a useful idea if you are making the pastitsio for a party.
To make the cream sauce:  Bring 6 cups of the cream just to a boil with
the milk. In another saucepan, melt 1 cup butter. Add the flour, stirring
with a wire whisk. When the roux is blended and smooth, pour in the hot cream and milk, stirring furiously with the wire whisk to keep it from lumping. Cook until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 15 minutes.
Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Turn off the heat and let the
sauce cool for 10 minutes before you add the eggs.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the unheated cup of cream. Gradually
add about 2 cups of the warm cream sauce to this egg mixture, beating all
the while to make sure that the eggs don’t curdle. Then pour the egg
mixture into the cream sauce, continuing to stir until everything is
blended. Finally, beat in the ricotta.
Butter the inside of a large, deep baking dish. This recipe will need a dish
at least 15 by 9 by 4 inches. Cook and drain the macaroni. Place half the macaroni in the dish and sprinkle with half the Romano. Spoon on half
the cream sauce, smoothing it with the back of a large spoon. Spread on
all of the meat sauce. Now add the rest of the macaroni, the rest of the
cream sauce, and the rest of the grated cheese, and place in a 400-degree
 [F.] oven. Bake for 55 minutes, when the pastitsio should be covered
with a golden-brown crust.
If you want to serve it in neatly cut squares, you should finish cooking
the pastitsio at least 6 hours before you intend to serve it. Leave it out on
the kitchen counter or, if the day is warm, place it in the refrigerator.
Then cut the casserole into serving portions and reheat before serving.

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