Every Christmas for dinner, we have roast leg of lamb, pasticio and Greek potatoes. Never changes. Well, mom has taken on the task for the last few years of making the pasticio. I've made the filling before, but since I am not a fan of the bechemel on the top, I never really got interested in making it.
This year, things changed.
I made the filling again, but this time, as mom made the topping, I helped (and snapped pics along the way)
I'll be honest, we aren't a measuring kind of family when it comes to food. I'm going to describe how we made it as simply as possible...
First, you start by browning the ground meat in a very large stainless steel pan. We normally use a pound of meat for a pound of pasta to put into a 13 X 9 pan. We used a lot more this time around. We had to do two pans of meat. :)
After the meat is browned somewhat, add ground black pepper, chopped dried onion and ground cinnamon. Start out w/ a sprinkling of each over the entire pan, then mix it up and try it. If you can taste all three ingredients, you're good. If not, add more of whichever needs it. Add one small can of tomato sauce when the meat is cooked. Let this simmer a bit, until the meat is completely saturated and after tasting, you can taste all of the seasonings and it tastes good :)
This is the only dish I'll ever make w/ no garlic in it. Trust me when I say, do not add garlic or really anything more than what I've added. (oh, well, you can sprinkle salt on top, but we're not salt adders)
While you are doing the meat, bring a pot of salted (I know, contradiction) water to a boil. Add the macaroni pasta. You can get this past at a local market that sells ethnic foods. It is No. 5 macaroni (you'll get it when you see all of the pinkish red packages) and it's basically spaghetti length elbow macaroni noodles. If you can't find it, elbow noodles will work fine. Don't use anything else. It's just weird.
After the pasta is cooked to al dente, pour the meat into the strained pasta pot and mix together. Toss in a couple of small handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese. Use grated cheese, not shaved or shredded. Pour the mix into the prepared pan like the above picture. Spread it all out evenly. Set aside. (Or in my case, just eat as is!!!)
For the bechemel. Everyone does their bechemel different. This is my mother's way.
Heat 4 cups of milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Melt a stick of butter in another saucepan and add equal amount of flour. Mix well. Slowly add the heated milk w/ a whisk (as seen directly above). While you are doing this, place 4 eggs in an electric mixer and let it go. Beat the bejebus out of those eggs. Get them nice and fluffy, like the below picture shows.
Once you've added the milk to the roux and it is completely smooth and not too thick, add some seasoning to taste, white pepper, cinnamon and some more Parmesan cheese. You don't want the sauce to turn red, so don't add a lot of cinnamon, just a bit to taste. Same w/ the cheese, adding too much will make the sauce grainy, so be careful. You can always add more if you want, but you can't take it away once you've added it to the mix!
After you're done w/ the sauce, add a little bit of it to the egg in the mixture, while it is running, to temper the eggs. The sauce is hot and you don't want to cook the egg when you add it to the sauce. Add it slowly and enough to temper, then add the sauce and egg mixture back into the saucepan.
And whisk it all together, like above!
Get your prepared pans out and pour the sauce over the top of the pasta and smooth it out.
The place the pan(s) in the oven at 350 degrees F for about an hour. Check it at about 45 min to make sure it's going well. You want the top to be GBG-Golden Brown Goodness!
I couldn't find my camera before dinner, so I used my phone to snap a couple of pics. I managed to get like the last piece on our serving plate (there was more still in the pan, but it was right there and it had lots of insides scrapes!) The top is a nice golden brown color and it set nicely.