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VicG

New member
Hi All!

I'm trying to recreate my mother-in-laws Pastitsio recipe (she's 92 and doesn't quite remember). From what my husband and his brother remember, she used elbow macaroni which she cooked in milk. Then she used that milk to make the white sauce. She didn't use cheese in her recipe. They remember her mixing eggs with the noodles after they were cooked. The white sauce was mixed in with the noodles and the noodles had a more solid consistency (probably because of the eggs) and also there was a thin layer of white sauce on top (a lot of the recipes have a really thick layer on top, hers was thin). I've only found one recipe in which the noodles were cooked in the milk, they were actually steeped in the milk until they were tender. With that recipe, there wasn't enough meat and while the noodles were close, it wasn't hers. They remember her using tomato paste in the meat sauce. The last recipe I tried was a bit of a disaster! The white sauce called for 1 cup of flour with 2 Tbsp butter. The white sauce didn't thicken and seeped into the noodles. It did mix egg whites with the noodles, but the consistency wasn't there.

I'm going to keep trying to tweak recipes, but if anyone has anything similar, it would be greatly appreciated, or if you can share any ideas that would help make it similar.

Thanks so much!
 

Luana

New member
Hi All!

I'm trying to recreate my mother-in-laws Pastitsio recipe (she's 92 and doesn't quite remember). From what my husband and his brother remember, she used elbow macaroni which she cooked in milk. Then she used that milk to make the white sauce. She didn't use cheese in her recipe. They remember her mixing eggs with the noodles after they were cooked. The white sauce was mixed in with the noodles and the noodles had a more solid consistency (probably because of the eggs) and also there was a thin layer of white sauce on top (a lot of the recipes have a really thick layer on top, hers was thin). I've only found one recipe in which the noodles were cooked in the milk, they were actually steeped in the milk until they were tender. With that recipe, there wasn't enough meat and while the noodles were close, it wasn't hers. They remember her using tomato paste in the meat sauce. The last recipe I tried was a bit of a disaster! The white sauce called for 1 cup of flour with 2 Tbsp butter. The white sauce didn't thicken and seeped into the noodles. It did mix egg whites with the noodles, but the consistency wasn't there.

I'm going to keep trying to tweak recipes, but if anyone has anything similar, it would be greatly appreciated, or if you can share any ideas that would help make it similar.

Thanks so much!
I have used elbow macaroni, though never cooked it in milk. I'm guessing cooking it in milk and then using that milk to to make the white sauce may make it thicker as milk may have starch in it from macaroni? I do put lightly beaten eggs in the cooked pasta, but the pasta must be cooled otherwise when you add eggs, you'll get scrambled eggs, so I rinse noodles in cold water. I've always added some bechamel (white sauce) to the pasta along with lightly beaten eggs, think it makes it ricer. The sauce must be thick before you add it to the pastitsio, as it will not get thicker in the oven. It's better to have too much sauce, than not enough.

I use some tomato paste in meat, but not a lot. It does not need to be very tomato-y, but should look like some tomato paste is in it and I do add cinnamon to it. I do add some grated kaseri or kefalotiri to the noodles and in the bechamel.

One cup of flour would never be enough to make sauce for a good sized pan of pastitsio. Not sure how much I used as I don't measure, but I do melt about 4 oz of butter, and maybe a cup of flour? (probably more) and then slowly add warm milk and stir until thick. It should not be thin. I will put a bit in with the pasta, and the rest goes on top, and I do a rather thick layer of crema on the top as that's how I've always seen it done.

I usually make a pan that will yield 8-10 servings, as it's wonderful leftover, and with all the work that goes into it, it seems a shame for only one meal.

I hope this is clear, as not sure if it is. I cook mostly by how things look (and taste) and have made pastitsio for many years, though I have not made it in a long time. Any other questions, please feel free to ask!
 

VicG

New member
I have used elbow macaroni, though never cooked it in milk. I'm guessing cooking it in milk and then using that milk to to make the white sauce may make it thicker as milk may have starch in it from macaroni? I do put lightly beaten eggs in the cooked pasta, but the pasta must be cooled otherwise when you add eggs, you'll get scrambled eggs, so I rinse noodles in cold water. I've always added some bechamel (white sauce) to the pasta along with lightly beaten eggs, think it makes it ricer. The sauce must be thick before you add it to the pastitsio, as it will not get thicker in the oven. It's better to have too much sauce, than not enough.

I use some tomato paste in meat, but not a lot. It does not need to be very tomato-y, but should look like some tomato paste is in it and I do add cinnamon to it. I do add some grated kaseri or kefalotiri to the noodles and in the bechamel.

One cup of flour would never be enough to make sauce for a good sized pan of pastitsio. Not sure how much I used as I don't measure, but I do melt about 4 oz of butter, and maybe a cup of flour? (probably more) and then slowly add warm milk and stir until thick. It should not be thin. I will put a bit in with the pasta, and the rest goes on top, and I do a rather thick layer of crema on the top as that's how I've always seen it done.

I usually make a pan that will yield 8-10 servings, as it's wonderful leftover, and with all the work that goes into it, it seems a shame for only one meal.

I hope this is clear, as not sure if it is. I cook mostly by how things look (and taste) and have made pastitsio for many years, though I have not made it in a long time. Any other questions, please feel free to ask!
Hi Luana!

Thanks so much for the detailed reply! I think cooking the macaroni in the milk does help thicken the sauce. Next time I think I'll temper the beaten eggs with some of the sauce and then mix it in with the macaroni. Thanks for the tip about the sauce being too thin and not thickening during cooking. That's what happened with the last recipe. Next time I make it, I'll post again to let you know how it went.

Thanks again!
Vic
 

Luana

New member
Hi Luana!

Thanks so much for the detailed reply! I think cooking the macaroni in the milk does help thicken the sauce. Next time I think I'll temper the beaten eggs with some of the sauce and then mix it in with the macaroni. Thanks for the tip about the sauce being too thin and not thickening during cooking. That's what happened with the last recipe. Next time I make it, I'll post again to let you know how it went.

Thanks again!
Vic
You're welcome. Cooking macaroni in milk will do nothing to thicken the sauce. Pasta needs to cook in a good rolling boil, and milk scalds easily. Pasta and sauce are two different things and however you cook pasta will have no effect on the sauce.

A good thick sauce depends on butter, flour and amount of liquid which is warm milk. Add milk slowly and keep mixing. It should feel substantial and drop slowly from a wooden spoon. I'm guessing you've never made a roux before, as that's basically what the bechamal sauce is for pastitsio. Maybe check YouTube for a video on how to make bechamal, or Google it as there are many examples. And be sure to use whole milk, no low-fat, 2%, or anything like that.

Good luck!
 

Jawge

New member
Hi All!

I'm trying to recreate my mother-in-laws Pastitsio recipe (she's 92 and doesn't quite remember). From what my husband and his brother remember, she used elbow macaroni which she cooked in milk. Then she used that milk to make the white sauce. She didn't use cheese in her recipe. They remember her mixing eggs with the noodles after they were cooked. The white sauce was mixed in with the noodles and the noodles had a more solid consistency (probably because of the eggs) and also there was a thin layer of white sauce on top (a lot of the recipes have a really thick layer on top, hers was thin). I've only found one recipe in which the noodles were cooked in the milk, they were actually steeped in the milk until they were tender. With that recipe, there wasn't enough meat and while the noodles were close, it wasn't hers. They remember her using tomato paste in the meat sauce. The last recipe I tried was a bit of a disaster! The white sauce called for 1 cup of flour with 2 Tbsp butter. The white sauce didn't thicken and seeped into the noodles. It did mix egg whites with the noodles, but the consistency wasn't there.

I'm going to keep trying to tweak recipes, but if anyone has anything similar, it would be greatly appreciated, or if you can share any ideas that would help make it similar.

Thanks so much!
 

Jawge

New member
My mother's pastichio was incomparable. The best I have ever eaten. It was known as such by my relatives as well. She died in 1974 and a piece of me died with her. She needed no recipe. She just knew.

My wife and I tried for many years to replicate the krema and we finally got it close to perfection last Easter.

I will try to replicate the recipe from memory. I can't give amounts because its depends on how many people will be dining. But experimenting is fun.

First, brown the hamburg with chopped onion and cinnamon.

Second, boil the pasta which must be #6 macaroni. We get it from a local Greek store.

Third, get the krema going. It consists of 5 or 6 eggs, whole milk, cheese (Romano) and flour. Heat and stir (wooden ladle preferred) for quite sometime until it thickens. .. but not too much...just enough ...not too watery either.

Fourth, hand mix the pasta, and hamburg with more Romano cheese but save a little bit of cheese.

Fifth, pour the krema on top where it must stay. If not it is too watery. If it is too thick it will end up gooey.

Sixth, sprinkle Romano on top. Remember you saved some.

Seven, bake it until the krema is browned.Turning on the broil function for few minutes helps.

I can taste Ma's now as I sit drinking my coffee before church. These traditional Greek foods transport me back to my childhood.

I texted this recipe to my daughter just in case I left something out.

Enjoy the journey.
 

VicG

New member
You're welcome. Cooking macaroni in milk will do nothing to thicken the sauce. Pasta needs to cook in a good rolling boil, and milk scalds easily. Pasta and sauce are two different things and however you cook pasta will have no effect on the sauce.

A good thick sauce depends on butter, flour and amount of liquid which is warm milk. Add milk slowly and keep mixing. It should feel substantial and drop slowly from a wooden spoon. I'm guessing you've never made a roux before, as that's basically what the bechamal sauce is for pastitsio. Maybe check YouTube for a video on how to make bechamal, or Google it as there are many examples. And be sure to use whole milk, no low-fat, 2%, or anything like that.

Good luck!
Thanks again for the advice!
 

VicG

New member
My mother's pastichio was incomparable. The best I have ever eaten. It was known as such by my relatives as well. She died in 1974 and a piece of me died with her. She needed no recipe. She just knew.

My wife and I tried for many years to replicate the krema and we finally got it close to perfection last Easter.

I will try to replicate the recipe from memory. I can't give amounts because its depends on how many people will be dining. But experimenting is fun.

First, brown the hamburg with chopped onion and cinnamon.

Second, boil the pasta which must be #6 macaroni. We get it from a local Greek store.

Third, get the krema going. It consists of 5 or 6 eggs, whole milk, cheese (Romano) and flour. Heat and stir (wooden ladle preferred) for quite sometime until it thickens. .. but not too much...just enough ...not too watery either.

Fourth, hand mix the pasta, and hamburg with more Romano cheese but save a little bit of cheese.

Fifth, pour the krema on top where it must stay. If not it is too watery. If it is too thick it will end up gooey.

Sixth, sprinkle Romano on top. Remember you saved some.

Seven, bake it until the krema is browned.Turning on the broil function for few minutes helps.

I can taste Ma's now as I sit drinking my coffee before church. These traditional Greek foods transport me back to my childhood.

I texted this recipe to my daughter just in case I left something out.

Enjoy the journey.
Thank you for the recipe! Glad you have such great memories! It's a shame no one thought to write down the recipes from my mother in law.
 

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