A few summers ago, some friends from America were staying at my house in Paros. I made pastitsio and baked it in the wood-fired oven. My guests tried some when they woke up at 11 am, asked for seconds for lunch at 4 pm, and then, after a day at the sea, they had some with their afternoon coffee at 7 pm, instead of something sweet.
Cooks In20' preparation | 50' cooking
1 packet of Bucatini - thick tubed spaghetti (1.1 lb)
1.5 lb ground beef
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
14 oz canned chopped tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes
½ cup cognac
1 tsp. sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Salt, freshly ground pepper
EASY BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
50 ?. oz fresh milk
6 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. butter
3 egg yolks
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups kefalotiri cheese, (grated substitute with Pecorino)
Heat the olive oil in a wide and shallow cooking pot with a thick base (Rondeau) and sauté the ground beef without stirring constantly.
Brown well for about 8 minutes.
Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes, until transparent.
Pour the cognac and wait for the alcohol to evaporate for 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
Cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the flavors combine and there are hardly any juices left.
Remove the cinnamon stick after 5 minutes.
EASY BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
Whisk the milk, cornstarch, freshly ground nutmeg, salt, and butter into a deep pot with a thick base. Leave for about 10 minutes, stirring.
Once the béchamel sauce thickens, remove from heat and add the egg yolks one by one, beating vigorously with the whisk.
Wait until each egg yolk is incorporated before adding the next one.
Mix in ½ cup of kefalotiri cheese.
In the meantime, cook and drain the pasta as per packet instructions.
Transfer half to a greased, deep baking dish and drizzle with a ladleful of béchamel. Gently shake the dish.
Add a ladleful of béchamel to the ground meat, mix well and pour meat sauce onto the pasta.
Cover with the remaining pasta and finish with the béchamel sauce.
Gently shake the dish so the béchamel settles on the surface.
Sprinkle with the remaining kefalotiri and bake on the bottom rack in a preheated oven at 360°F, for about 45-50 minutes.