Friday February 22, 2013

Now many of you may balk at this recipe while some may rather enjoy it as I have for years. My father made this recipe when I was a young teen and it was my first taste of lamb. Technically not Pastitisio, for it probably should be called lamb-flavored spaghetti, but it does blend lamb and pasta none-the-less. Go ahead and try it, it is phenomenal.

Classic Pastitsio

I have always said that if I were to choose one vegetable that goes perfectly with lamb, it would be green beans. Both the first and second Yankee Chefs agreed and always, when able, prepare lamb with green beans.

8 ounces elbow macaroni

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup cooked green beans, cut in 1-inch segments

1 pound ground lamb

1/2 small onion, minced

1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil

1 can(8-ounce) tomato puree

1 teaspoon oregano

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir the beaten eggs and nutmeg into the pasta well: set aside.

Spray the bottom and half way up the side of a 2 quart casserole dish or 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Lay the prepared pasta in the bottom of the dish followed by the green beans evenly over the top: set aside.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. In a large skillet, cook lamb, onion and garlic over medium heat until done. Drain if preferred but I leave the juices in the pan. Stir in the tomato puree, oregano, pepper and cinnamon. Reduce to low heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Spread this mixture over the pasta. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, whisk well and add the milk. Continue cooking and constantly stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour over the meat mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes or until Pastitsio is set and the top is bubbling.

Chef Jim Baley -- The Yankee Chef -- is a noted food columnist, cookbook author and the foremost New England Food Historian. He is a third generation chef and historian and lives in Maine with his wife and four children. He welcomes feedback at theyankeechef@aol.com.