KO Cooks! Lasagna
Having a 7 month old at home means “I can cook all day if I want to” no longer applies. I have been dreaming about making lasagna for months but have not found the time. Social distancing at home has finally given me the opportunity!
My favorite lasagna has 4 essential parts. The meat sauce, béchamel sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano, and the pasta. I made the meat sauce a day ahead, the bechamel and pasta the day of. This lasagna does not have ricotta or mozzarella, so if you like your lasagna cheesy this is not for you. I wing this recipe, but am sure that the inspiration has come from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan (as does most of the Italian cooking I do at home). If you do not already own this cookbook you should!
Béchamel is a white sauce, I like this description of what it is in case you are not familiar: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-bechamel-sauce. For this lasagna I make a basic bechamel with a couple of scrapes of nutmeg over a fine grater.
The meat sauce is just ground beef, carrot, celery, onion, and canned crushed tomatoes. It should cook for a while to really develop some good flavor. ( I can't call this Bolognese which would be traditional, it's just my throw-it-together meat sauce).
Fresh pasta for this lasagna is my favorite part to make. Pasta dough is as simple as egg and flour, and can be rolled out using a pasta roller, or by hand with a rolling pin.
4 TBS olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ lbs ground beef
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
Heat a medium sized heavy bottomed pan on medium low heat. Add the olive oil. Add the carrot, celery, and onion, stirring occasionally until softened. Add the ground beef, breaking it up and browning it. Once the meat is browned add the can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Let this cook on low heat, partially covered for 1 hour or more.
4 TBS unsalted butter
5 TBS flour
3 C warm milk
Couple of grates of nutmeg
In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Add flour and whisk while cooking on medium heat. Whisk in the warm milk constantly to avoid clumps. Whisk until the mixture thickens. Add a couple of pinches of salt, grinds of pepper, and grates of nutmeg, stir. Set aside until layering the Lasagna.
2 C flour
3 large eggs
On a large work surface make a wide mound with the flour. Create a well in the middle of the mound, crack your eggs into the well. Using a fork mix the eggs, then start to mix in small amounts of flour without breaking the wall of the well. The mixture will start to come together like dough at which point you can use your hands and start to knead it until it is well mixed and smooth. The dough should not be wet or tacky, but workable.
Wrap with plastic wrap or an alternative and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
Cut the dough into manageable portions to work with. Using a pasta roller, process until quite thin, 5 or 6. If using a rolling pin roll quite thin. You will want to dust your work surface with semolina flour, lay out your sheets of pasta and cut in wide strips the length of your lasagna pan.
Cook the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it like the sea. Boil one sheet of pasta at a time for about 2 minutes each. Lay on damp towels so that they do not stick together.
I recommend using tongs and a slotted spoon to help you navigate these slippery, hot sheets of pasta from the pot to the towels.
1 Cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a lasagna pan about 13 X 9 inches spread a small amount of meat sauce. Put a layer of pasta down. Now spread a thin layer of meat sauce over the pasta, spread evenly. Ladle béchamel over the meat sauce. Sprinkle Parmigiano Reggiano over that. Add another layer of pasta, meat sauce, béchamel, and parm. Repeat as many times as you can. The more layers the better.
Bake the lasagna for 1/2 hour at 400° F.