Recipes

Short Rib Pastitsio

Chris Christou

Nerai, NYC

In case you don't have a yia yia to cook you traditional Greek specialities, chef Chris Christou's pastitsio has you covered. With layers of tender short ribs, creamy béchamel, and bucatini pasta, this decadent dish may become your newest comfort food staple.

Ingredients

Short Rib Pastitsio:

  • 5 pounds boneless short ribs
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces bucatini pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 1/2 cups Kefalograviera cheese (grated) or Pecorino Romano

Béchamel:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 egg

Method

Make the pastitsio: preheat the oven to 325°F. Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Set aside. Set a deep, wide Dutch oven or sauté pan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, sear the short ribs on all sides until the outside is golden brown. Do not crowd the pan—work in batches, if necessary. This process should take about 15 minutes. Remove the browned ribs to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and add the celery, carrots, and onions and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Once the vegetables have cooked, add the chicken stock, red wine, canned tomatoes, and stir in the tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the mixture simmers, add the cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and thyme. Add the browned short ribs. Cover the pan tightly and place in the preheated oven. If your lid isn’t tightly fitting, place a layer of tinfoil on the top of the pot and then place the lid on top. Cook the short ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Remove the pot from the oven and allow the short ribs to rest in the hot liquid for at least 30 minutes.

While the meat is cooking, make the béchamel. Set a medium-sized saucepan over low heat and slowly melt the butter. Stir in the flour and continuously mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture turns a light golden color, about 6 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking continuously until the mixture is very smooth. Bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Season the béchamel with salt and nutmeg. Allow the sauce to cool completely then add the eggs. Set aside.

Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil, seasoning the water with 2 tablespoons salt. Add the bucatini, and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside.

Once the meat has rested, remove it from the pot and reserve the cooking liquid. Using a large spoon, remove the excess fat from the top of the cooking liquid. Using 2 forks, gently shred the meat and mix in the parsley and chives. Add the shredded meat to a very large bowl and add half of the reserved cooking liquid.

Assemble the pastitsio: preheat the oven to 350°F. In a 13 x 9 x 2–inch casserole dish, arrange the bucatini in an even layer. Sprinkle the pasta generously with cheese. Top the pasta and cheese with a layer of the shredded short rib meat, adding some of the leftover cooking liquid if the layer looks dry. Top the meat with the béchamel sauce, making sure that there is no exposed meat. Bake the pastitsio covered with foil for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the cooked pastitsio stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield

6 to 8 servings