INGREDIENTS FOR THE MEAT SAUCE
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 pound ground beef, chuck
- 1 yellow onion, chopped finely
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 small can tomato paste
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 4 cups milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup Mozzarella, shredded
- 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 3 eggs, beaten
INGREDIENTS FOR THE NOODLES
- 1 lb. pasticcio/ziti
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter
INGREDIENTS FOR ASSEMBLING
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
- 1/4 cup of grated fresh Parmesan
- 2 eggs, beaten
PREPARE THE MEAT SAUCE
- Heat butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan and sauté the onions, garlic and meat until browned over medium heat (season with salt and pepper).
- Add the oregano, parsley, bay leaves, cinnamon, sugar, wine, tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Let simmer for a half hour to 45 minutes.
- Taste and add more spices, if needed, about halfway through and again toward the end.
- Remove from heat and let cool off.
PREPARE THE NOODLES
- In a large stockpot in a generous amount of salted water cook noodles to al dente.
- Drain, return to pan and stir in butter.
PREPARE THE BÉCHAMEL
- Melt butter in heavy saucepan.
- Whisk in the flour and cook for two minutes.
- Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Whisk in the milk slowly and bring to a slow simmer, constantly whisking.
- Remove from heat and whisk in quickly the eggs and cheese.
- You can temper the eggs by whisking in a small amount of the béchamel first.
ASSEMBLE THE PASTITSIO
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter or baking spray a large deep pan.
- We used a 9×13 casserole with a sheet pan placed underneath it in the oven.
- Add a bit of the béchamel, enough to generously cover the bottom of the pan.
- Strain the ground beef mixture, remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
- You can add your noodles to a giant bowl or mix right in the large pan that they were cooked in.
- Add the remaining 2 eggs, a ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, 1 cup of the béchamel and the strained beef mixture.
- Combine carefully; try not to break up the noodles.
- Add the noodle mixture to the prepared pan.
- Layer the rest of the béchamel over the top.
- Then sprinkle with Mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Our casserole dish was full right to the top and even a little bit above. (We had only one little drip over the side right at the end of baking. The béchamel firms up and stays in place as it cooks.)
- Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
- Let sit for five to ten minutes before serving.