Saturday, 12 December 2009

Lamb Pasta Bake

More August Cooking

I love lamb. I like the flavour, I like what you can do with it, I like the texture when it's cooked. I just really really like it. D, on the other hand, doesn't like lamb. He knows how much I like it though and he has been willing to experiment with lamb prepared in different ways to see if we can find something that appeals to him.

So far, we have tried some spiced lamb cutlets, thinking that the heavy spice mix would cut through the lamb taste, but he didn't really like it. I wondered if maybe it was a textural thing, because no amount of spice mix can disguise that, so we tried this Lamb Pasta Bake taken from a recipe on

As the recipe says, it takes not only the flavour but also the technique from Greek Pastitsio. D loves pastitsio made with beef so we were both quite excited to try this.

I mentioned the last time I made pastitsio that I couldn't work out how to make it without a sinkful of dishes and this recipe was no exception. It was worth it though, the pasta bake was very good. It wasn't quite as rich as the version I make with beef, but I really don't think you could tell that one was made with beef and one was made with lamb. D certainly couldn't tell and was quite happy to eat his share.

I don't really know if we've found the reason for his lamb aversion or if we've discovered that you can smother anything in lashings of cheese and cheese sauce and it will taste good, but I'm happy that he liked it.

Lamb and Pasta Bake

2 tsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
500g lamb mince
1 x 700g btl passata (tomato pasta sauce)
1 x 400g can diced Italian tomatoes
250g dried rigatoni pasta
1 egg, lightly whisked
35g (1/3 cup) coarsely grated cheddar

Cheese sauce
70g butter
2 tbs plain flour
500ml (2 cups) milk, warmed
40g (1/2 cup) coarsely grated cheddar (I used kefalotiri)
20g (1/4 cup) shredded parmesan
Ground white pepper
2 egg yolks, lightly whisked

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until the onion is soft. Increase heat to high. Add the mixed herbs and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic.

Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 7 minutes or until the mince changes colour. Add the passata and tomato. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool slightly. Stir in the egg.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Remove from heat. Stir in the flour. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the mixture bubbles. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk until smooth and combined.

Place the pan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in the cheddar and parmesan. Season with salt and white pepper. Set aside to cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolk.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Add the mince mixture to the pasta mixture and stir until well combined. Spread over the base of a 3L (12-cup) capacity freezerproof baking dish. Pour over the cheese sauce. Top with the cheddar. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Set aside for 20 minutes or until set.

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