January 1, 2009

Lasagna Bolognese

Happy New Year!

I decided not to go out for New Year's Eve this year. Instead, I stayed home and made lasagna with a classic meat sauce. The sauce is fairly easy to make, though it takes a bit of prepping & several hours to cook. The pasta was
very easy to make and hand-roll into long sheets that were folded into individual gratin dishes & layered with the sauce and cheese.

Bolognese Meat Sauce
from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
via Emily Weinstein's "How to Cooking...Something: Bolognese"

Yield: 2 heaping cups
Time: At least 4 hours
Marcella's Notes:
  1. The meat should not be from too lean a cut; the more marbled it is, the sweeter the ragu will be. The most desirable cut of beef is the neck portion of the chuck.
  2. Add salt immediately when sauteeing the meat to extract its juices for the subsequent benefit of the sauce.
  3. Cook the meat in milk before adding wine and tomatoes to protect from the acidic bite of the latter.
  4. Do not use demiglace or other concentrates that tip the balance of flavors toward harshness
  5. Use a pot that retains heat. Earthenware is preferred in Bologna and by most cooks in Emilia Romagna, but enameled cast-iron pans or a pot whose heavy bottom is composed of layers of steel alloys are fully satisfactory.
  6. Cook, uncovered, at the merest simmer for a long, long time; no less than three hours is necessary, more is better.
My Notes:
  1. I used extra-virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil.
  2. I used 1 pound of 81% lean ground beef & 1/2 pound of ground pork.
  3. I added garlic with the carrots & celery & dried oregano with the nutmeg.
  4. I wanted a thicker, less chunky, more saucey sauce, so I briefly pureed some with my immersion blender.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
  • Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
  • Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 teaspoon -- of nutmeg, and stir.
  • Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Semolina Lasagna

from Lidia Bastianich via Cooking Light


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semolina flour

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large eggs


  • To prepare pasta, lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours in a food processor; process 30 seconds. Combine water, oil, and eggs in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. With processor running, slowly pour water mixture through food chute, processing just until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Shape dough into a disk. Dust dough lightly with flour; wrap in plastic wrap. Let stand 30 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), press dough portion into a flat narrow rectangle. Roll the dough into a 20 x 4–inch rectangle, dusting with flour, if necessary (turning dough over occasionally and dusting surface with flour). Lay pasta sheet flat; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions to form 6 sheets.
  • Bring 6 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Slowly lower 1 pasta sheet into boiling water; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until done. Carefully remove pasta from water with a slotted spoon; lay pasta flat on a jelly-roll pan covered with a damp towel; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining pasta sheets.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place 1 pasta sheet on each of 6 individual baking dishes lightly coated with cooking spray; spoon a 2-3 tablespoons of sauce & sprinkle a large pinch of cheese over each serving. Fold noodle over sauce. Repeat procedure, ending with sauce. Top each serving with 4 teaspoons mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano.

  • Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and pasta is thoroughly heated. (Finish by putting under the broiler for a few seconds to brown the cheese, if needed.)

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