Pseudo Pastitio

What follows is a dish for people who enjoy Pastitio, but who lack the hours required to devote to making the traditional recipe.

8 oz ground beef
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 Tsp dried oregano
5-6 canned tomatoes
3 Tbl tomato puree or sauce
1/4 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 Tsp ground allspice
3 Tbl butter
3 Tbl flour
12 oz whole milk
1/4 cup of Mizithra or Romano cheese
pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
black pepper
7 oz penne pasta or other tubular pasta
olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pasta to 2 minutes under al-dente. Chop the onion finely. Smash the garlic. Squish the tomatoes. Grate the Mizithra.

Heat up a Dutch oven over a medium flame. Pour in 2-3 Tbl of olive oil. Add the ground beef and saute until brown on one side. Add the onions. Stir. Sprinkle in 1/2 Tsp of oregano. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Saute until the onions are clear. Add 1/2 of the garlic to the pan. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Throw in the wine, tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, allspice and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil, cut the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Scrape the sauce mixture into an 8 inch by 8 inch Pyrex baking dish.

Make the Mornay. Melt the butter in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle in and whisk the flour until it turns golden in color. Pour in the milk. Reduce until the sauce is thick and bubby. Melt 1/4`cup of Mizithra cheese into the sauce. Sprinkle in nutmeg to taste. Cut off the heat.

Add the hot drained pasta (and 1-2 Tbl of pasta water) to the Pyrex dish. Grate a bit of nutmeg over the pasta. Stir thoroughly.

Ladle (or drizzle) the Mornay sauce over the pasta, meat and tomato mixture.

Grate a self-desired amount of Mizithra over the surface of the Mornay. Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow the dish to rest for 15 minutes before serving.