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Course: main course
Total time: under 2 hours
Skill level: Moderate
Cost: Moderate
Yield: Serves 8
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Notes

When we visited Greece as college students, the layered pasta dish pastitsio became our primary comfort food—close enough to American macaroni and cheese to soothe, though exotic enough to excite. In this variation, the lamb in the filling is rolled first into mini-meatballs and smoked briefly before it’s combined with the other ingredients and baked.

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh dill or ¾ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 plump garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1½ teaspoons dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 12 ounces penne or elbow macaroni
  • 1½ cups thin-sliced drained artichoke hearts, frozen or canned
  • 2 ounces grated kasseri or Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring your smoker to its appropriate cooking temperature.

In a small bowl, mix together the lamb, oil, dill, nutmeg, and salt. Form the mixture into mini-meatballs, about ½ inch in diameter. Place the meatballs on a small grill rack, grill basket, or piece of heavy-duty foil. Transfer the meatballs to the smoker and smoke until cooked rare, about 25 to 35 minutes at a temperature of 225° F to 250° F.

While the meatballs smoke, make the sauce. In a saucepan, warm the oil and butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic briefly until the onion is soft. Stir in the flour. Add the milk about ½ cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Spoon a few tablespoons of the milk mixture into the eggs, then whisk the eggs back into the milk mixture. Add the dill, salt, nutmeg, and white pepper. Continue cooking over medium heat just long enough to warm the sauce through, and reserve it.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.

Cook the penne according to the package directions and drain it.

Spoon half the penne into the prepared dish and spread the meatballs evenly over it. Top with half of the artichokes and half of the cheese. Add the remaining pasta, and then the rest of the artichokes and cheese. Pour the sauce over the dish. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until the mixture is just firm and lightly browned.

Serve hot.

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Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving

459kcal (23%)
215mg (21%)
2mg (4%)
88mcg RAE (3%)
435mg
56mg
21g
7g
3g
41g
103mg (34%)
356mg (15%)
9g (47%)
24g (36%)
3mg (15%)