Last week I had a dinner party...my friend Saul's mother was here from Mexico. She had been here for a couple of months and was going to return to her country. We had wanted to have her and Saul's little family over and decided to cook Lasagna. Her favorite restaurant to go to here was Olive Garden, so I thought I couldn't go wrong with pasta. This is a great recipe...it is not the traditional stringy cheesy Lasagna, although it is creamy and very tender....the Bechamel, with the hint of nutmeg gives it a spice than is not easy to discern.... I made it the night before doubling the recipe and kept it in the fridge until time to put in the oven, that worked out fine, it was so wonderful!
from the chef: Mario Batali
Serves six to eight.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound veal, ground
1 pound pork, ground
4 ounces pancetta, ground
1 8-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup milk
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 to 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, about 7 by 4 inches, or dried lasagne noodles blanched for 6 minutes and refreshed
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Oil for brushing
Ragù: In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sweat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are translucent. Add veal, pork, and pancetta to the vegetables, and brown over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together. Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, thyme, and 1 cup water, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hours (if the ragù becomes too thick, add a little more water). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
Béchamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour, and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture turns golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until it is just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture, 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until the sauce is very smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and season with salt and nutmeg.
Assembly: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with melted butter or oil, and layer in the following order from the bottom: ragù, pasta, béchamel, and grated cheese (saving about 1 cup béchamel for last topping), making 3 to 4 layers of pasta, finishing with ragù, béchamel, and 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled over the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 20 minutes, slice, and serve.
start with sauteing onions, celery and carrots in oil in heavy large pan...
pancetta is in the recipe to be used, but I had this meaty bacon on hand and used it....chopped it up small
it says ground pork in the recipe but I used italian sausage, says ground veal (I used bison) and the bacon...put it all in the pan and...
cook over medium heat until all meat is done.....
add wine, (or water) tomato paste, milk, water and thyme and stir
add chili peppers and stir....
cook uncovered for 1 to 1-1/2 hours...it will cook down....
grate your parmigiano-reggiano
time to make the bechamel....heat milk in separate pan....
melt butter in large skillet....over medium heat
add flour and stir....
whisk, whisk, whisk.....cook, cook, cook...
when you turn to get your camera don't let your whisk fall in the pan....
things happened very fast and before you know it the sauce is done....it is creamy, fragrant and smooth
the ragu is perfect...not to thick.....taste it to see if it needs salt and pepper....
I bought the fresh pasta sheets at Metropolitan Market...but several larger grocery stores carry them as well as Trader Joes....
here you start your layering...red sauce...pasta sheets....
Bechamel sauce, sprinkle cheese....then repeat.....
do about 5 layers...not overfilling your pan....
I grated some extra cheese to put on top right before I put it in the oven.... couldn't very well blame these hands on being Gramas or Mom's......
cause check it out she was right next to me...Hi Mom!...(wow aren't those the largest reading glasses you have ever seen?)
cheese on top and then....
it is ready to go in the oven.....you won't be sorry you went to the trouble to make this...it tastes like going to Italy....not that I would know, but I am sure this is what they eat everyday!
Here are some pictures I thought you might like to look at of our special night....
This was our fabulous dessert...sister Mary made it...Coconut cake...maybe we can get her to share it!
this is my grand daughter Misty on the right and on the left is my great-great niece Ashlynn...
Misty, Ashlynn, Lucas and Fernando coloring....
Cousin Diane, cousin Susan, Saul's wife Lidia and my godson Fernando peaking..
Friend Dar, sister Mary, Saul, Saul's mother Maria and Diana
Mother and Maria
ok left to right...Fernando, Saul, Lidia, Lucas in front, Susan, myself, Mother, Maria, David and Sarah
It was quite a night!
Cheers to Happy !!