MOLDE DE CARNE DESMECHADA
adapted from El Tiempo’s cookbook-magazine Cundiboyacense
Ground Beef Casserole
Ingredients for Four People
1/4 c oil
1 large white onion, chopped finely
3 medium roma tomatoes, without seeds, chopped
3 t garlic paste
thyme and oregano to taste
1 leaf of laurel
color/seasoning (garlic powder, ground paprika, ground cumin)
1 lb ground beef
5 c water
2 T unsalted butter
2 T flour
salt and white pepper to taste
2 c milk
½ c bread crumbs
½ lb grated or crumbled cheese
In a medium-large sauce pan, saute the onion and tomato with the oil. Shape the hamburger into patties, then add them to the pan. Pour the water over the vegetables and meat. Add the spices. Cover the pot and let the mixture cook about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the bechamel: In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, salt and white pepper. Whisk in the milk a little bit at a time. Continue to whisk the liquid over medium heat, until it thickens into a sauce. Remove it from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 400*F. Grease a medium-sized, rectangular, glass casserole.
Remove the cooked hamburger patties from the liquid. Crumble them in a frying pan and cook them a little bit longer so that the meat is browned. Turn off the heat.
Strain the water off the tomato/onion/spice mixture, and remove the laurel leaf. Return the pan to the stove and stir the mixture until it forms a thin paste. Turn off the heat.
Mix the vegetable paste with the crumbled hamburger.
Layer the ingredients in the glass casserole: Meat, bechamel, breadcrumbs, cheese. Repeat.
Bake the casserole in the oven until the cheese bubbles and the breadcrumbs are golden on top: 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes, so that the cheese becomes more firm.