© Constantine William Spyrou
As a lot of you have probably figured out by now, I am a HUGE fan of creating fusion cuisine. I mainly enjoying combining cuisines that work well together onto one dish, such as Mexican-Thai fusion or my recent Italian Shredded Beef Tacos. Well, I'm back at again, but I'm going to take two cultures I really haven't touched on yet: Greek and American. People usually don't associate Greek and American food going well together, but the similarity they share with each other is exciting- both enjoy utilizing meaty and cheesy dishes, for example. This classic Greek dish is an example of that: Traditionally, Patsitsio is like a Greek lasagna, with a bottom layer of ziti pasta and ground beef and a top layer of creamy bechamel sauce that is baked to a golden brown. This is an American spin on this Greek classic, with cheddar and American cheese mixed into the bechamel to help give more of an authentic cheeseburger flavor. This will definitely be one hearty meal to enjoy!
Serves 8-12 people
2 pounds ground beef
1 large white onion, diced
2 kosher dill pickles, diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/8 cup Greek olive oil
2 large Roma tomatoes, diced
2 pounds Ziti pasta
3 eggs, separated into whites and yolks then beaten
1 cup American Cheese, grated
1 cup Orange Cheddar Cheese, grated
5 cups milk
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp chicken base
1. Place the olive oil into a hot pan. Add the diced onion.
2. When the onion turns translucent, add the ground beef, garlic, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Let the meat cook for about 20-30 minutes or until fully cooked.
3. When the meat is cooked, add the diced pickles and tomatoes, mix well, then take off of the heat and let it cool.
4. Place the ziti into seasoned, boiling water, and cook for no more than 3/4th of the desired cooking time to ensure that the ziti is not overcooked in the finished product.
5. Heat up the milk in a pot.
6. In a separate pot, melt the butter. Add the flour, and slowly mix until a roux is formed and there are no real lumps. The roux should clump together and turn a golden yellow.
7. When this happens, add the hot milk and quickly stir into to the roux, making sure no lumps remain and the roux dissolves into the milk. Add the chicken base and some more pepper, and stir well.
8. Add the egg yolks and QUICKLY STIR so that the eggs completely temper into the milk, like a custard, and so that you don't make scrambled eggs inside of the bechamel.
9. Slowly add the American cheese and half of the cheddar cheese into the bechamel, stirring so that each grouping of cheese is fully melted into the sauce. Let the bechamel cool.
10. Drain the cooked pasta, and combine the pasta with the ground beef mixture, the egg whites, a small portion of the bechamel, and some more salt and pepper. Pour the pasta into a casserole dish or large lasagna tray, then pour the bechamel over the top.
11. Sprinkle the last part of the grated Cheddar over the top. Baked in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is browned. Let cool, then serve.
This classic Greek comfort dish just got even richer by adding some great cheese and the complexities of an all-American burger. Let me know what you think of this dish if you try making it, and enjoy!