for the filling:
500g pork mince
1 diced onion
1 tsp Tomato Paste
1 heaped cup grated anari cheese (“anari” cheese is very similar to ricotta when freshly made. The “anari” cheese used here is dry, not fresh. If not in Cyprus, I suppose you could substitute it with the closest version of a dried ricotta cheese.)
500g (1 pack) Mezzani (A) Pasta
2 tbs chopped parsley
1 scant cup bread crumb mix (1/2 cup grated anari & 1/2 cup bread crumbs)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
chicken broth for boiling the pasta
olive oil or vegetable oil for frying and coating the pasta
for the bechamel sauce:
1 full cup vegetable oil
2 cups Village Flour
3 & 1/3 cups milk (before the mixture bubbles)
1/4 cup milk (after the mixture bubbles, but before the egg is added)
3/4 cup reserved chicken broth from boiling the pasta
1 egg well beaten
1/2 cup milk (after the egg is added)
1/4 cup grated anari cheese
1. Boil the pasta in chicken broth (or use a stock cube). Once cooked, but al-dente, drain the pasta (reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta water) and rinse the pasta in cold water. Place in a bowl and drizzle a little vegetable or olive oil on top so that the pasta does not stick. Set aside.
2. In a large pan over high heat, add 1 to 2 tbs olive or vegetable oil. Once hot, add the mince meat, onion, tomato paste, parsley and 1/8 tsp cinnamon. Once well cooked remove from the stove and drain the mixture so that there is no liquid left in the meat sauce.
3. Take a rectangular dish, and soak a paper towel in olive or vegetable oil. Rub the soaked paper towel around the dish, to lightly coat the dish in olive oil. Sprinkle a layer of the bread crumb mix to the bottom of the pan.
4. Prepare the bechamel sauce. On medium high heat, add the vegetable oil and 2 cups of Village flour. Constantly whisk the mixture, ensuring that there are no clumps of flour. Continue to whisk the mixture, slowly adding 3 & 1/3 cups of milk until it begins to bubble. (The mixture should resemble goop-y mashed potatoes.)
5. Continue to whisk, once the mixture bubbles, add 1/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Continue to whisk the mixture and slowly add the beaten egg.
6. Continue to whisk the sauce, and add 1/2 cup milk and the 1/4 cup of anari.
7. Preheat the oven to 175C.
8. Assemble the “pastitsio”. Place two-thirds of the pasta on the bottom of the pan and press down on it to create as much of a flat surface as possible. Sprinkle half of the grated anari cheese on top of the pasta. Spread the meat sauce on top of the pasta. Spread a thin layer of bechamel sauce on top of the pasta and meat sauce. Place the remaining pasta on top of the mixture, again pressing down on it to create as much of a flat surface as possible. Sprinkle the remaining grated anari cheese on top of the pasta. Spread the remaining bechamel sauce on top of the pasta with a spatula so that it becomes level with the top of the dish. Sprinkle a thin layer of the breadcrumb-anari mixture on top.
9. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until the bechamel sauce begins to turn a golden brown. Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.