Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guest Contributor - My husband Paul's Pastitsio

Featured Ingredient:  Diced Tomatoes

Now that I've gone back full time into the workforce, I don't have as much time to devote to my blog. My cooking is pretty much reserved for the weekends and my husband takes over during the week.  This basically means manly meals, that are usually calorie-laden and full of fat (which usually also means good). Most are not the best choice for my figure, but beat the hell out of having to start from scratch at 7:30 p.m. (after walking the dog).  Otherwise I have to go my repetoire of under 5 minute meals - because I'm starving. One can only have so many egg and cheese sandwiches and soup.

Now that my husband is the weekday chef, it seems he has blogging aspirations. Recently I found pictures of my husband's Pastitsio recipe on the camera, and figured that is a perfect example of Uncanny Goodness.  To me it's the Greek offspring of beefaroni and moussaka. Aside from finding entry ideas for my blog, I've also been treated to random photos of me filling my bird feeder in pajamas, my butt, and other candid beauties. (Please don't mind that I don't share these).

Pastitsio is a great Sunday dinner. I like to reserve Sunday's for something that will deliver multiple servings.  Then I know when I come on Monday and maybe even Tuesday, I just have to nuke my way to quick and satisfying meal. Making hamburgers for example is a not a good use of time, as they don't reheat well the next day and after everyone finished there are no leftovers.  Stews fit this bill perfectly.  But as the weather has gotten a little warmer, I've moved on to casseroles which are also a perfect candidate.  A delicious dining experience can be derived from a simple mish mosh of ingredients.

For the macaroni
1 1/2 cups of elbow macaroni
1 egg

For the beef mix
1.3 pounds of 85/15 ground beef
1 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 – 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 – 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes undrained
1 TB red wine vinegar
1TB chili powder
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon

For the white sauce
3 TB butter
3 TB flour
¼ tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg beaten
½ cup Italian blend shredded cheese

Salt & Pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 350F

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook macaroni until al dente. Drain. Combine pasta and 1 beaten egg.

Meat Sauce: Cook ground beef, onion and garlic together in a skillet until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat.  Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, chili powder, allspice, cinnamon.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

White Sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium and stir in flour and pepper.  Add the milk all at once. Whisk and stir until smooth thick and bubbly.  Beat an egg in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup.  Slowly add hot liquid to temper the mixture - to ensure not scrambling the egg. Return egg mixture to the saucepan, stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

In a square baking dish, add 1/2 the pasta mixture.  Next add all the meat sauce.  Then add the remainder of the pasta and top with the white sauce.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.  The white sauce will firm when cooked.

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