This will likely be the first post of many about an Ina Garten recipe. The woman is a genius. What I would give to be one of her gay hamptonites solely for the pleasure of her food. Um, I mean company. Her approach to food, cooking and entertaining has significantly influenced mine. From “turning up the volume on classics” to her emphasis on only using the best ingredients in her cooking – I adore the balance she’s struck between tradition and modernity. Reverence for what works and adaptability for what doesn’t has become a core part of my cooking.
Anywho, she is just a pleasure to watch. Her show is as technical as it is therapeutic. And it’s about the food, not the boobs (sorry, Giada. Though I appreciate your taking it down a notch from your Everyday Italian days).
This is actually my second Ina recipe this week. I made Pappardelle with white truffle butter as a midnight snack (hey, I’m pregnant) but exhausted it too quickly for any photographic evidence. Either way, it was divine and I’d highly recommend it. These recipes are not for the faint of heart (there might be enough saturated fat to send even a small calf running to the vet). I tweaked her recipe quite a bit (due to availability of ingredients in my fridge). You can find the original here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/pastitsio-recipe/index.html
For the Tomato Meat Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 2 small onions or 1 medium chopped
- 1 cup of chopped carrots (i used half a bag of baby carrots)
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 large cloves)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Bechamel:
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmeggiano Reggiano
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
- 1/2 pound shells or some other ribbed pasta (I used cellentani)
- 1/2 head of cauliflower cut into florets (can sub broccoli or just nix the veggies for 1/4 lb more pasta)
For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and carrots and saute for 5 minutes. Add the lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it’s no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Ladle off any excess liquid. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup ofParmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don’t over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside. Boil the cauliflower florets in the same pot for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Add the pasta and cauliflower to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.