Yia Yia's Famous Pastitsio
Every since I was on The Bachelor and my big fat Greek family made their dancing debut in Aunt Tina's living room, people have asked me to share our Pastitsio recipe!
Pastitsio is my all time favorite thing to eat! I used to beg my Yia Yia to make it every time we would visit her in Knoxville over the summer. I can still see her standing next to her stove stirring the "crema" so it's not clumpy while watching Days of Our Lives on her little 12 inch box television. It amazed me how her Pastitsio was absolutely perfect...every single time.
When I got older, my Yia Yia taught me how to make her Pastitsio. Sometimes it turned out great...other times, not so much. I didn't care though. As long as the taste was there, I would eat the lumpy cream topping any day! Also, big shout out to Aunt Tina and Aunt Maria for answering my endless FaceTime calls to make sure I was doing everything right! Thank God for the iPhone.
For the first time ever in my life, last week my Pastitsio turned out absolutely perfect. I still don't know how that is even possible as I was chasing my two kids around while making it. A blessing from God, I guess. I had to send Aunt Tina multiple photos because even I was surprised at how perfect and smooth my crema was! I am still patting myself on the back.
Enjoy this recipe friends. Make sure you have a few hours to spare when making it! Be sure to add some love and think of Yia Yia at every single bite!
I would love to see how your Pastitsio turns out! Please comment and share your photos below! I love hearing from y'all!
DeAnna (and Yia Yia)
6 T butter
3/4 cup flour
1 qt. hot milk (microwave it in small increments & stir so you don't burn it)
2 teaspoons Salt
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 T butter
2 lbs. ground beef
Dash of Cinnamon (I always do an extra dash because I like mine to have a bold flavor)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
2 T tomato paste (I always add a little extra)
1 lb elbow macaroni (I always use Zita)
3 eggs, beaten
1 T Salt
4 cups grated cheese- Romano and Parmesan
Saute onions in butter until golden. Add meat and cook, stirring until meat is browned. Add cinnamon, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix tomato paste with 1/2 cup of water and add to mixture. Cook for 5 minutes until well blended and fragrant. Cook macaroni according to directions on package. Drain and rinse. When macaroni is lukewarm, add eggs and 1 T salt to the macaroni and mix well. *Be sure the macaroni isn't' too hot or the eggs will curdle.
Cream Sauce: Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and cook, stirring until mixture is golden. Gradually stir in hot milk. (*I find it best to add the milk in small increments stirring vigorously with a whisk to make sure there are no clumps and it's nice and smooth before adding more milk. I repeat this over and over until I've add all the milk and its nice and smooth.) Cook stirring constantly until sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in Salt and set aside to cool. When partly cool, stir in lightly beaten eggs. *It is very important to let the crema cool before adding the eggs. You don't want to cook the eggs.
Layer half of the macaroni in a large buttered pan (I use an 9 x 6 and then make a smaller one in a 6 x 4 and freeze it) . Sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Add meat mixture and sprinkle again with grated cheese. Add remaining macaroni and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Top with cream sauce, being sure to submerge all macaroni ends. The dish should be covered with the cream sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Bake at 350 for 35-45 mins until golden brown.