Thursday, February 4, 2010

Traditional Lasagna

I can't believe it's this late in the season and I only just made lasagna last week.

This is a recipe that I kind of cobbled together. The meat sauce is based on Emeril's Turkey Bolognese recipe, but I tweaked it. The bechamel is just a bechamel but I didn't used to make lasagna this way - I was formerly in the ricotta-mozzarella camp. I didn't used to like nutmeg in my savoury dishes but making Pastitsio converted me.

This recipe makes enough for 8 people to have one serving, so if you want leftovers it's good for 4 or 6. It's nice with a salad, I think. Our guests brought a lovely spinach, tomato, and boccincini salad, and we had home-made bread on the side.

So here is how you do it:

First, you make the meat sauce. You need:

1 tbs olive oil
1 large diced onion
3 finely diced carrots
2 lbs of ground meat; I used a combination of beef, veal, and pork because I am decadent, but turkey, beef, and/or chicken are great too.
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 small tin of tomato paste
1/2 c dry vermouth or 3/4 c white wine
2 c chicken stock
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c parsley
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried

1. Saute the meat in the oil over medium-high until it's not quite brown and broken up.

2. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

3. Add the vermouth and let it cook off a little, then add the tomato paste and stock. Let this all simmer for a while.

4. Then add the parsley, basil, and cream. Let this simmer away until the sauce is thickened and creamy. Adjust the seasonings if you need to. Set the pan aside and preheat your oven to 350ยบ.

If you are using noodles that you need to boil first, do this. I use oven-ready ones, so there. Lightly grease a lasagna pan and set it ready. Now it's time to make the bechamel sauce.

You need:

4 tbs butter
4 tbs flour
2 c milk
1 tsp nutmeg

1. Melt the butter on medium low. Don't let it brown.

2. Add the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes. Gradually whisk in enough milk for a rather liquidy sauce, then gently boil it to thicken. If it is too thick, add more milk - you can always add more but you can never add less. Mix in your nutmeg at some point, too.

3. When the sauce is at the desired thickness, you are ready to assemble the lasagna. You should have at the ready:

1.5-2 c grated parmesan cheese. This is very important.

How to assemble a lasagna:

You need your bolognese sauce, your bechamel, your noodles, your greased pan, and your parmesan.

Put a layer of bolognese on the bottom of the pan. Then put a layer of noodles, followed by bechamel,  followed by bolognese, followed by parmesan. Repeat these layers until you run out of space in your pan. Try to eyeball the right amounts so you don't end up skimping on anything. You need to end your layers with a bolognese-parmesan one. The parmesan will get nice and golden brown on top, which is pretty to look and and delicious to eat.

Cover loosely with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then take the foil off and bake another 10. If you need to, broil for about 2 minutes at the very end to really get things nice and golden. Despite wanting to gobble the whole thing down like Garfield as soon as it comes out of the oven, it benefits from a "cooling off period" - this will enable you to not burn yourself on the one hand, and on the other hand, to remove slices of lasagna without them looking sloppy and shapeless.

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1 comment:

  1. love lagsana :)
    can just dump all your favourite ingredients in!
    hehe. yours look delish :)