Beef and macaroni pie

Rick Stein has a great affection for these Mediterranean baked dishes of meat, pasta, tomato and cheese, and in Corfu they give their version a unique quality with kefalotiri cheese and cinnamon
By Rick Stein
Beef and macaroni pie
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8-10
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

For the meat sauce

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean minced beef
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 400 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 10 cm cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano, Greek if possible
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 3 fresh bay leaves

For the pasta

  • 500 g tubular pasta, such as rigatoni, tubetti or tortiglioni
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50 g Greek kefalotiri cheese or parmesan, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted, for greasing
  • 10 g fresh white breadcrumbs

For the white sauce

  • 115 g butter
  • 115 g plain flour
  • 1.2 litres milk, plus a little extra
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Method

1. For the meat sauce: heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry until just beginning to brown. Add the minced beef and fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, breaking up any lumps with the wooden spoon.

2. Add the red wine, tomatoes, tomato purée, cinnamon stick, ground cloves, dried and fresh oregano, bay leaves, 100ml water, 1½ teaspoons salt and some black pepper. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring now and then, until the sauce has thickened but is still nicely moist. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.

3. For the pasta: bring 4.5 litres water to the boil in a large saucepan with 8 teaspoons salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, taking care not to overcook as the pasta will cook a little further in the oven. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool slightly.

4. For the white sauce: melt the butter in a medium-sized non-stick saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, over a medium heat for 1 minute. Gradually beat in the milk, then bring to the boil, stirring. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper to taste.

5. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Stir 250ml (about one-fifth) of the white sauce into the warm pasta with the beaten eggs and half the grated cheese. Keep the remaining sauce warm over a low heat, stirring now and then and adding more milk if it begins to get a little thick.

6. Use the melted butter to grease a large, shallow ovenproof dish that measures about 23cm x 33cm x 7cm. Spread one-third of the pasta over the base of the dish and cover with half the meat sauce. Add another third of the pasta, then the rest of the meat sauce, then a final layer of pasta.

7. Spoon over the remaining white sauce. Mix the last of the grated cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 40 minutes, or until bubbling hot and golden brown.

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