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One-pan pastitsio

When I started writing this book, I set myself a challenge: to make much-loved Greek dishes more achievable. To be fair, a lot of our recipes are pretty straightforward, but one request that came up time and again is pastitsio (or as Cypriots call it, makaronia tou fournou). Pastitsio isn’t particularly tricky, but it is laborious. There’s the slow-cooked ragu, the cooked pasta, and then a béchamel. How can we strip this back? By making the whole thing using only one pan. You read that right. One. Pan. Ragu, pasta and sauce. Of course, it’s not the same as classic pastitsio in terms of layers and drama. But I think it has its own dramatic appeal; the whole thing is cooked in a large frying pan and that looks pretty epic.

Ingredients

 

Olive oil

500g mince — ideally beef,

perhaps some pork too

Sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper

2 onions

4 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried oregano, plus

a pinch

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons tomato purée

250g pastitsio pasta, bucatini

or even penne (gluten-free if needed)

1 litre beef stock

300ml crème fraîche

2 egg yolks

100g graviera, kefalotyri or

pecorino

Method

 

You’ll need a wide, deep frying pan for this dish. If you don’t have one you confidently think will fit all the ingredients then make it in a large saucepan. Place your pan on a high heat and drizzle in a good few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mince to the pan, and break it up well with a wooden spoon. Season generously, and fry for 5–8 minutes, so that any liquid evaporates and the mince starts crisp. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. When the mince has started to brown, stir them in with the oregano and cinnamon. Fry for a further 5 minutes, reducing the heat a little, stirring everything together (add a touch extra olive oil if it looks dry). Stir in the tomato purée, fry off for a minute or two, then add the pasta to the pan. If you are using traditional pastitsio pasta or bucatini you may need to snap some of the pieces in half to fit them all in. It’ll be snug in the pan, but try to fit them all. Pour over the beef stock, season and bring to the boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

 

While the pasta is cooking, mix together the crème fraîche and egg yolks. Finely grate the cheese and stir in most of it with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. When your pasta is ready, turn your grill to high. Gently toss the pasta and sauce in the pan together, trying not to disturb it too much. Spoon the crème fraîche mixture over the top and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese, plus an additional pinch of dried oregano. Place under the grill, not too close to the bars, and grill for 3–5 minutes, until golden and bubbling on top. Keep an eye on it as how long it takes will depend on the strength of your grill. Remove and leave to stand for at least 5–10 minutes before serving.

SERVES 4

Photography © Laura Edwards

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