This dish came about after having some leftover lamb shanks and like any frugal Greek, one should never throw out good food. Re-invent, remake, reuse. If you don’t have leftovers, then this dish is a little more involved as you will have to braise the lamb shanks to make but it won’t take you that much longer to make than a classic Pastitsio using ground meat.
As a recap, Pastitsio is a baked pasta dish with one layer on the bottom, meat in the middle followed by another layer of pasta then topped with a thick Bechamel sauce. Ideally, thick hollow pasta is used and if you have a Greek grocer nearby, ask them for Pastitsio pasta. Otherwise, bucatini or penne will do.
For this delicious take on Pastitsio, I pull the tender cooked meat off the shanks and lightly break up the meat into small pieces. I don’t want stringy pulled meat – I like some texture. Add in some of the tomato sauce that the shanks braised in and you can begin making this haute yet still rustic Pastitio. Let’s!
Braised Lamb Pastitsio
8 braised lamb shanks + sauce (recipe here)
500 gr. package of Pastitsio pasta (or penne)
8 cups of Bechamel sauce
grated Kefalotyri cheese
9″ X 13″ deep roasting pan, greased with butter
Pre-heated 375F oven
- Execute a recipe for braising 8 lamb shanks and as soon as the lamb is cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone, break into bite sized pieces and toss in enough tomato sauce (from the braise) to generously coat the meat. Reserve.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and then season well with salt and add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Strain and toss in a little oil (prevent clumping). Set aside.
- Make one recipe of Bechamel, as per the recipe here.
- Place half your cooked pasta in the bottom of your pan and add one ladle of Bechamel and gently toss to coat (this will act as a glue for your bottom layer.
- Now spread your lamb meat evenly over the entire surface of the pasta and pour extra tomato sauce (if needed). Top with the remaining pasta then pour over the Bechamel sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle grated Kefalotyri cheese over the Bechamel and place in your pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes or until top is golden.
- Take out of the oven and allow to cool for an hour before cutting (otherwise your Pastitsio will flop on your plate). Serve with a side salad and pair with a bottle of Paros Syllogi Moraitis.
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