There have been a lot of Greek dishes showing up on friends’ blogs lately, and when I saw this Pastitsio from Mike’s Table I knew I had to make a version of Pastitsio including capers. I’d never thought to add them before, but they’re perfect in Pastitsio – they added just the right bite to the dish, and I will likely always add capers, as well as olives, from here on out.
- 2 lbs. ground lamb, pork, or beef (I used just lamb)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 medium onions, chopped, or equivalent shallots
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, grated
- 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, chopped
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 sprig fresh Greek oregano
- 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- Small wineglass of dry white wine
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
- 7 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 7 cups whole milk
- 1 Tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 pound bucatini, ziti, or penne
- 1 3/4 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cook onions in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Increase heat to high, then stir in lamb and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps with a fork, until meat starts to brown, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain the cans of tomatoes, reserving juice, and chop.
Pour off excess fat from skillet, then stir in tomatoes with their juice, thyme, spices, capers and olives, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, until some liquid has evaporated but sauce is still moist, about 40 minutes. Discard thyme.
While the meat sauce simmers, melt butter in a heavy medium pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking frequently, until pale golden, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat milk in a heavy medium saucepan until just about to boil. Add milk to roux in a stream, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, whisking, then cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, cheese, and 1 tablespoon salt.
Lightly beat the yolks in a bowl. Gradually whisk in 2 cups béchamel, then whisk yolk mixture into remaining béchamel in saucepan. Cover with a round of buttered wax paper (buttered side down).
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Cook ziti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente.
Drain pasta, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 cup béchamel.
Arrange one third of pasta lengthwise in 1 layer in a large (17-by 11-inch) baking pan (about 2 inches deep).
Add half of meat sauce (about 3 cups) to baking pan, spreading evenly over pasta.
Make another layer of pasta and top with remaining meat sauce, then arrange remaining pasta on top.
Spread remaining béchamel (about 6 cups) evenly over top layer of pasta.
Stir together bread crumbs and cheese and sprinkle evenly over top of pastitsio.
Bake until crumbs are golden brown and sauce is bubbling, about 45 minutes.