Greek Pastitsio

Pastitsio plated

I had a pack of minced beef to turn into dinner and couldn’t face spaghetti bolognese. This recipe is a combination of several from the internet. Most were for vast quantities so I reduced down and modified to merge 2 or 3 slightly different approaches. This was more effort than bolognese sauce but not that much and made a very pleasant change. I served with greek salad which is a firm favourite with my teen boys.

Ingredients

  • 450g minced beef
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 400g tinned tomatoes
  • Ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 300g macaroni
  • 100g grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 20g butter
  • 20g flour
  • 500ml cream

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven 180 degrees C
  2. Brown mince in sauteing pan
  3. Add chopping onions and fry until translucent
  4. Add minced garlic and fry another 2 minutes
  5. Add tomatoes and red wine
  6. Grate pepper, chilli, allspice and cinnamon into meat mixture and add thyme and cook for 5-10 minutes until not too wet
    Pastitsio meat sauce
  7. In meantime cook macaroni
  8. Mix cooked macaroni with 2 eggs and layer half on base of casserole. (I used a Le Creuset 23 cm Cast Iron Oval Casserole), then sprinkle on 1/3 of the grated parmesan.
  9. Carefully pour on the meat sauce.
  10. Layer rest of macaroni on top of meat sauce then top with with 1/3 grated parmesan
  11. Melt butter, add flour then whisk in cream and 2 eggs
  12. Layer white sauce on top and sprinkle final 1/3 parmesan
    Pastitsio uncooked
  13. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes until top browned
    Pastitsio out of oven
  14. Serves 5-6
    Pastitsio in casserole
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Slow-cooked lamb shoulder with boulangere potatoes – Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food

Slow-cooked lamb shoulder with boulangere potatoes after cooking

This recipe won’t win any prizes for stylish presentation but it tastes wonderfully warming on a cold winters day and takes very little effort. It is from Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food. Tom runs the Hand and Flowers in Marlow which we all love although we’ve only ever eaten the set lunches.  I went off him some after reading this article http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/nov/08/top-chefs-unite-against-blogger-s-review but I watched one of the tv programmes accompanying this book when he demonstrated this recipe and thought it looked worth a try and the following Sunday I wanted to do a roast but knew we’d be out all morning and this was perfect as it cooks for 4-5 hours at a low heat.

The lamb fat soaks into the potatoes and they are melt in the mouth soft except the top layer which is seriously crispy. I don’t want to think about the calorie value of this dish and it is for that reason only that it will be a few weeks before I cook this again. If the decision was purely taste and ease I’d make it next weekend. There was just enough meat leftover to warm and pop into two pitta breads the next day with some lettuce.

Next time I will layer the onions and potatoes separately so that there are no onions on top as they crisped up a little too much and I shall ensure the top layer of potatoes are small rings so they break more easily.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 large waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch thyme, leaves picked
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 whole lamb shoulder
  • 1 garlic bulb, peeled and separated into cloves
  • 568ml/1 pint chicken stock
  • cooked green beans or other green veg to serve

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 130C/275F/Gas 1.
  2. In a bowl combine the onions, potatoes and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Layer the potatoes and onions in a roasting tin and place the lamb on top skin-side up.
  4. Cut small incisions in the lamb using a small knife and stick the whole garlic cloves in the holes, pushing them into the meat to prevent them burning while the meat cooks.
    Slow-cooked lamb shoulder with boulangere potatoes before cooking
  5. Pour the chicken stock over and place in the oven for 4-5 hours.
  6. When cooked, remove the lamb from the oven, cover with aluminium foil and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Optionally pop potatoes back in to crisp up potatoes that were under the lamb.
  7. Serve with French beans (or any green vegetable of your choice).