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The Compromise February 24, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cook's Country, Cooking.
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Long-time readers here are aware of my love for eggplant and my special love for moussaka, and, if so, you’re also aware that Peeps is somewhat less fond than I am of such things.

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I mean, sure, more for me and all, but, well, it’s an awful lot for one person to eat, you know?

Fortunately, there’s another solution.

What I like to think of as a compromise dish – all the bold, lovely flavors of my lovely moussaka, with none of the eggplant.

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Do you have any idea how jazzed Peeps was when the current issue of Cook’s Country arrived, and in it, the article entitled “Introducing Pastitsio”?

Not that Pastitsio needed much of an introduction, mind you – we’ve been familiar with the “Greek version of lasagna” for a number of years.  Just never found “the” recipe, you know?

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Basically, Cook’s Country took a traditional recipe, the kind that makes you want to take a nap immediately after dinner, and bumped up the spices while toning down the carbs.

They took a heavy-duty meal and turned it into a dish that was delightfully seasoned, filling and hearty, yet not overwhelming.

I love those people!

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And since Saturdays have been dubbed “pasta night” around here, and pastitsio basically replaces moussaka’s eggplant with elbow macaroni, we decided that this particular Saturday, the weekend Surly Boy and The Girl were here, we decided it was time to give this recipe a try.

It’s not a complicated recipe – there are just a lot of steps – and ingredients – though I’ll wager you have most everything in your pantry right now, or you should, anyway.

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You’re basically going to start with half a pound of elbow macaroni, and while that’s cooking, you’ll make your meat sauce – onions, garlic (and plenty of it!), tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon, and some lean ground beef (we used ground sirloin).

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We’re also going to make a bechamel sauce – plenty of milk and some flour and butter and lots of Romano cheese – some of which gets mixed with the elbows (once they’re done) (obviously), and the rest, well, the rest get a couple of eggs beaten into them and they’ll become the top layer of this layered dish.

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And so.  Spread the macaroni-mixed-with-bechamel sauce on the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan, and cover that evenly with the meat sauce mixture.

Once you’ve beaten the eggs into the remaining bechamel (being sure to temper properly, of course), that mixture should be poured on top of the meat sauce.

Don’t worry about the fact that you’ll fill your pan literally To The Brim.

You may want to bake it on a sheet pan, though, to be on the safe side.

The whole mess gets baked for about 45 minutes, then, once it comes out of the oven, it should rest for at least 10 minutes.

You’ll thank me later.  Well, you’ll thank the good people at Cook’s Country, anyway.

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Because honestly?  This recipe is well worth the price of the magazine, which should still be available wherever you buy magazines.  And while it’s far from complicated, there are several steps, and I’m not about to try to “adapt” this recipe.

There is no reason to think leftovers wouldn’t freezer beautifully – unfortunately, we didn’t have any to test that theory.  I mentioned that it was the weekend that The Boy was home – growing boys need to eat, I guess. 

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