Lasagne alla Bolognese
Today’s recipe is a gem!
Lasagne alla Bolognese (with meat sauce) is one of the most popular dishes of Emila-Romagna, in Italy. Because of the proximity with Tuscany, the dish is now a very well represented item in restaurants’ menus throughout my region and many families have their own version of it: today we will introduce you to the traditional recipe… the one without Ricotta Cheese!!!
Don’t let the hours of work needed to cook this intimidate you, indeed this is a dish that can be prepared without braking a major sweat… no surprises here.The idea behind this episode is to show you how to cook something that can be prepared well in advance (it can be refrigerated or frozen), in case you are planning a party, an evening out at the theatre, a date, or maybe grandma is visiting tomorrow?! I shot this episode while Debi was doing the final episode of Dancing With The Stars; I was going to attend the show, which meant I did not have the time to cook in the evening, but I still wanted to throw a nice after show dinner for the wife and a few friends…. I spent the morning cooking, the afternoon on stage watching my lady dance, and I had a major feast ready to be served when I got back home! On top of that, Since I prepared two trays of Lasagne, I was able to freeze one for the upcoming Holidays.
It goes without saying that the appropriate way of doing things would be to also prepare your own pasta and cut the fresh lasagne yourself; right… next time, maybe!
Go shop for fresh ingredients, make sure your iPod is loaded with some good Bossanova, wash your hands and get to work.
Note – The Bolognese Sauce that we will prepare for this Lasagne is an exceptional condiment for pasta as well, give it a shot!
Serves: 8 + 8 / Prep Time: 10 min / Cook Time: 2 1/2 hrs
Serves: 8 / Cook Time: 20-30 min
Serves: 8 + 8 / Prep Time: 40 min / Cook Time: 45 min
BOLOGNESE MEAT SAUCE
Chop Onion, Carrot and Celery medium-thin and saute' them in about 5 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Cut the Pancetta into small cubes and add it to the soffritto, along with the Hot Pepper. Cook on a medium-high flame for about 7-10 minutes, than add the meat; break it well with a wooden spoon, you can jack up the flame a bit, keep stirring until all the ground meat is browned . Add now the wine and cook until the alcohol is completely evaporated.
Process the Pelati in a mixer and add them to the meat, season generously with Salt and Pepper, lower the flame to medium and cook for about 2 1/2 hours.
Finish the sauce by adding the Whole Milk, stir well and set aside to cool off.
BESCIAMELLA (Béchamel Sauce)
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Sift in the flour. This is the most important moment, as you have to slowly toast the flour without burning it... This will help you loose the flowery taste.
Warm up the milk and pour it in progressively in the pot, whisking constantly while bringing the mixture to a boil, simmer for about 15 minutes and season with salt and pepper (optional - add grated nutmeg). If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk, if too runny, return to the heat and add a pat of butter mixed with an equal quantity of all-purpose flour.
The most important thing though is: Besciamella should not taste floury... if you think your sauce it's ready, but you can spot a hint of "flouriness" when you taste it, think again, and kee on cooking it for a few minutes more.
Preheat the oven to 375º. Butter well the aluminum trays and pour a first thin layer of meat sauce.
Add the first layer of Lasagne and cover (in order) with meat sauce, about 3 ladles of besciamella, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Repeat the same operation until you almost reach the top of the tray. Make sure you lasagne are soaking into the sauce; because you are working with pasta that does not require boiling you have to make sure that there are no wedges of lasagne sticking out of the sauce... they won't cook!
When done layering the ingredients, top the lasagne with some meat sauce and some besciamella, add a few thin slices of butter and finish it with some grated parmesan.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes.
When your fantastic Lasagne alla Bolognese are cooked: If you are ready to serve the dish right away, give it a nice crisp by broiling it about 5 minutes, if you intend to freeze it or serve it later in the day set aside to cool off a half hour, then refrigerate or freeze.
When you decide to tap into your reserve of frozen lasagne keep in mind you need to thaw them overnight!
Serve with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and some Grated Parmesan to taste.
Debi and Gabriele