500g/1lb 2oz tubular pasta, such as rigatoni, penne or tortiglioni
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
50g/1¾oz Greek Kefalotiri cheese or Parmesan, finely grated
2 tbsp melted butter
10g/⅓oz fresh white breadcrumbs
For the white sauce
115g/4oz unsalted butter
115g/4oz plain flour
1.2 litres/2 pints full-fat milk, plus extra to let down the sauce
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
To make the meat sauce, heat the oil in a pan then add the onion, garlic and celery. Fry until just beginning to brown. Add the mince and fry over a high heat for 3–4 minutes, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon as the meat browns.
Add the remaining meat sauce ingredients with 100ml/3½fl oz of water, 1½ teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Simmer for 30–40 minutes, stirring now and then, until the sauce has thickened but is still nicely moist. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, then set the sauce aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the pasta until al dente. Take care not to overcook, as it will cook a little more in the oven. Drain well, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool slightly.
To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook over a medium heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually beat in the milk, then bring to the boil, still stirring. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for 5–7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Stir 250ml/9fl oz of the white sauce into the warm pasta with the beaten eggs and half the cheese. Keep the remaining white sauce warm over a low heat, stirring now and then and adding more milk if it begins to get a little thick.
Use the melted butter to grease a large, shallow ovenproof dish measuring about 23x33x7cm/9x13x3in. Spread one third of the pasta mixture over the base of the dish and cover with half the meat sauce. Add another third of the pasta followed by the rest of the meat sauce, then cover with a final layer of pasta. Spoon over the remaining white sauce.
Mix the remaining grated cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 30–40 minutes until bubbling hot and golden brown on top. Serve immediately.
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