Monday, November 28, 2011

Lamb Patstitsio

Food 52 hosts weekly contests to see who can make the best dish in a given category.  A while back, they hosted a best baked pasta contest. This recipe won, and has become one of my favorite comfort food dishes. It takes some time, but is actually quite simple and totally worth it. 

Pasta & Meat:
  • 1 lb penne pasta (I have also made this with my new fave pasta, gemelli, and it was great)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2lb ground lamb
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • zest of one lemon 
    • The recipe actually calls for 1/2 tsp ground sumac. I can never find this spice where I live, but the google machine told me I could sub in lemon zest. I have never had it with sumac, but the lemon zest really makes this dish awesome, so I don't think I'm missing anything.
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 oz crumbled feta
Cheese sauce:
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 3 c milk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/4 c grated parm
- Cook the pasta, leaving it with a slight bite. Drain the pasta and mix it with the tbsp of butter.
- Cook the lamb and the onions- I like to do this separately so that the onions can take a little more time and get slightly caramelized on their own.

- Drain the fat from the lamb and combine the meat with the onions. Add wine and cook the mixture until most of the liquid evaporates.
-Stir in the tomato paste. This step is important- all the mixture to cook for a couple of minutes. This lets the tomato paste kind of "toast" a bit and adds another layer of flavor.
- Add cinnamon, oregano, half of lemon zest (or all of the sumac), mint, and 2 c of water.

-Simmer until this mixture thickens (about 15-20 minutes.) Season liberally with salt and pepper.

-Preheat the oven to 350 while you make the cheese sauce:
-Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, whisk in the flour.
-Add the milk to the mixture slowly, whisking continuously.

-Cook until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon:

- Stir in the cayene and parmesan cheese. 

- In a large bowl, mix the pasta with the lamb mixture. Add in the feta and the rest of the lemon zest.
-**Taste it and make sure there is enough salt. It may just be me, but I have a tendency to undersalt this dish. There are no salty ingredients except that bit of parm in the sauce, so you should make sure there is enough to really highlight all of the flavors. 

- Pour the lamb and noodles into a 9x13 baking dish, cover with the cheese sauce.

- Bake at 350 until the sauce is bubbly and browned in spots- about 35-40 minutes.

- Grab a bowlful, get comfy, and enjoy.....

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