One of the most well-know Greek classics , be it Greek or not has to be Pastitsio. This pasta dish is often called a Greek lasagna with its alternate layers of meat sauce and pasta and topped with Bechamel sauce.
There have been a few creative takes on Pastistio, all good and I like and appreciate creativity in the kitchen. Entire Lobster Pastitsio – I’ve swapped meat sauce for lobster meat, combining inspiration from lobster macaroni and cheese and you have swanky new pasta dish that tastes great, looks fabulous.
Live lobster is always preferred and in this instance I sauté the lobster pieces to extract more lobster flavour then I make the sauce, followed by Bechamel and finally assemble. The most important thing to remember here is to not overcook the Pastitsio here as we’re dealing with lobster meat.
You will also need to use a food ring/ mold to form the individual portions. You can find these at your local restaurant supply store or simply order online.
Assembly now is easy – divide and pack each mold (almost to the top) then finish off with Bechamel, bread crumbs and bake until just golden. Allow to rest before unmolding and you have a towering Lobster Pastitsio that looks and tastes great: creamy, with sauce also getting inside the wholes in the past, succulent sweet lobster meat that is kissed with cheese flavour and a fluffy topping of Bechamel with crisp finish from the bread crumbs.
2 live lobsters, 1 to 1 1/2lbs each
2 Tbsp. of butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup diced red onions
2 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 finely diced carrots
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
5-6 ripe plum tomatoes, passed through a box grater
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. of Metaxa brandy
salt and pepper to taste
400gr. of Misko “pastitsio” pasta (or bucatini or penne)
For the Bechamel
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. of flour
2 cups of whole milk (warm)
1 cup of whipping cream
1 cup grated Graviera (or Gruyere) cheese
1/2 cup grated Kefalotyri (or Romano) cheese
fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon or basil
1/2 cup homemade breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- Cut each live lobster by piercing each one through the head then cutting down along the tail until it is cut in half. Remove the liver (it will darken your sauce). Separate the claws, knuckles, tails, legs from the body (each has different cooking times).
- Into large pot, add the butter and oil over medium high heat and add the claws and sauté a few minutes or until the shells just turn red. Remove and reserve. Now add the tails and sauté both sides for 2 minutes, remove and reserve. Add the knuckles, sauté 2 minutes, remove and reserve.
- Now add the legs, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, paprika and sweat, reducing the heat to medium and cook for 6-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste, plum tomatoes, wine, brandy and some salt and pepper and bring up to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat, remove legs, bay leaf and reserve.
- Remove the lobster meat from the shells, chop into fork-sized pieces and reserve (use a rolling pin to remove meat from the legs). Place a large pot of water on your stovetop and bring to a boil. Season well with salt and boil your pasta for about 6 minutes, drain and reserve.
- To make your Bechamel, place a medium pot on your stove over medium heat and add the butter and once it’s melted, add the flour and stir for a minute. Slowly add the milk while whisking and stir until it thickens. Add the cream, stir in and simmer for another 5 minutes. Now add the cheese in batches and stir in until incorporated into the sauce. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Melt some butter and toss in your bread crumbs and chives, set aside. Add the lobster meat plus HALF of your Bechamel and your tarragon or basil into the tomato sauce and toss well to incorporate. Place ring molds onto a greased baking sheet and fill each one with lobster pasta, with about 3/4 inches space remaining. Top each serving with remaining Bechamel and the breadcrumbs.
- Make sure your rack is set on the upper middle half of your oven, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until the tops are just golden. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5-6 minutes. Place a large spatula under each mold and transfer to a plate. Run a knife around the edge of each mold to loosen the pasta and simply lift up the mold.
- Serve immediately and pair with a Domaine Gerovassliou Viognier.
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