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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Athena's Perfect Greek Pastitsio

Athena's Perfect Greek Pastitsio

Saute a medium to large onion in 1 T. real salted butter. Add 1 lb. chuck hamburger and stir while browning. Drain fat well. Add 1- 16 oz. can tomatoes drained, and 1/2 6 oz. can. tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste, breaking tomatoes up with a spoon. Add a broken bayleaf, 1 tsp. cinnomin and 1 tsp. dried or 1 T. fresh basil and about 1/4 C. Parmesan cheese. Cook slowly 15 min. Taste and adjust. Should be savory and sweet.

Meanwhile make Rigatoni. Boil 9 minutes (al dente) in salted water. Drain well. Season and stir with 1 1/2 T. butter, lightly salt and pepper (white pepper preferred), 1 tsp. dried or 1 T. fresh chopped parsley, 5 dashes garlic powder or 3 dashes garlic salt, 1 T. extra virgin olive oil (preferably Pompeii) and 3 T. parmesan. Taste. Should be delicious even served by itself.

Layer 13 x 9 inch glass casserole with buttered rigatoni. Pour meat sauce over and spread evenly.

Make Bechamel sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 2 T. butter and 2 T. flour and stir for one minute. Add 1 qt. (4 C) whole milk and heat stirring. (If using fat free or skim milk, I have also used part fat free evaporated milk to add creaminess). In a small bowl, whisk 2 medium or 3 large eggs beaten with 2/3 c. of the hot milk mixture in a small bowl and then add back into pan and whisk. Let almost boil. Do not curdle by boiling. Remove from heat and season with 1/4 t. nutmeg, 1 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper. Pour evenly over meat sauce from edge to edge of 13 x 9 in. pyrex casserole dish. Top evenly with bread crumbs (roll a dried piece of crusted white or whole wheat bread between your palms over the dish)whimsically arranged 4 long sprigs of fresh parsley with stems, and parmesan cheese. This makes an attractive topping as the crumbs brown. If you do not have bread crumbs you may use paprika.
Cover tightly with foil. Bake 350 oven covered 30 minutes, then uncovered another 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving in party rectangles. Makes about 8 servings.

Serve with Athena's Greek Salad (recipe to follow later), Greek bread and butter, and tall glasses of iced tea with lemon.//

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