Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pastitsio Recipe


Pastitsio is one of my new favorite dishes!  I watched Ina Garten make this for a special garden dinner with her husband on the Food Network and I knew I needed try it.  Pastitsio is a Greek baked pasta dish with ground meat topped with a b├ęchamel sauce.  It is amazing!  I will warn you that this dish does take some time to put together and uses LOTS of pots, pans, and bowls, but it is so worth it!


Because Pastitsio takes so much time to make, I have only made it twice for very special birthday celebrations!  This recipe calls for lamb and beef, which is amazing, but if you aren’t a fan of lamb, just substitute with more beef or ground turkey.

Pastitsio Recipe
Recipe from Ina Garten

For the Tomato Meat Sauce:
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground lamb
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 large cloves)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Bechamel:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
3/4 pound small shells

For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.

Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Braised Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine Recipe


I am usually an exception to many gift giving rules.  I want kitchen appliances and gadgets!  Years ago when Bill and I were dating, he bought me my Kitchen Aid Stand up mixer for Christmas and I was ecstatic.  He was a little embarrassed to buy me this gift because it wasn’t the typical gift a boyfriend is expected to buy, but I love it and use it almost every day. 

This past Christmas, my parents generously gave me and my sister our first Le Creuset French Oven.  Upon opening our French Ovens my sister and I immediately started talking about all of the amazing recipes we were going to make with them!  My first was braised short ribs. 


French ovens are enameled cast iron that can go from your stove top to your oven.  They are the perfect tool for evenly distributing the heat to your food.  For the braised short ribs I browned them quickly on all sides on the stove top, deglazed the bottom of the pan to pick up all of the short ribs flavor, then slow cooked everything in the oven to perfection!  Thank you to my parents {and Le Creuset} for this amazing French oven!

Braised Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine Recipe
Serves 4 people
Preheat oven 300oF

12 Bone-in Short Ribs
Salt
Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Grapeseed Oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot coarsely chopped
1 celery stock, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3 cans plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 bottle of dry red wine
6 cups of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Brown on all sides in a braising pan.  Remove from pan and pour off most of the fat. 

Slowly caramelize onions, carrots and celery in the remaining fat.  Add garlic and tomatoes and soften.  Deglaze with red wine and reduce.

Add stock and bring to a simmer.  Arrange the ribs in the braising pan and add herbs.  Cover and place in a 300oF oven for 3 hours.

Carefully remove the short ribs from the liquid and place on serving platter.  Strain the vegetables from the liquid and serve if desired.  Remove fat from the top of the liquid and reduce the liquid to desired constancy on the stove top.  Spoon the liquid over the short ribs.

Tips:
1)      I froze the remaining braising liquid in the freezer to use it as a stock for a future soup!
2)      This recipe could be doubled if you are having lots of people over for dinner. 
3)      You don’t need a French Oven to make this meal.  You can brown the meat in a large frying pan with tall sides, deglaze the pan and then place everything in an oven safe baking dish to finish cooking.  Cover with tin foil.

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