Friday, 30 December 2011


Santa gave me a shiny new red lasagne pan this Christmas. I know what that means. I can take a hint. Actually, Santa can also take a hint as Mrs. Claus had told him where they were on sale for 70% off. We are big on hints in this family. Also big on lasagne.

A traditional meat lasagne with creamy bechamel and homemade noodles is the perfect antidote to turkey. Sure, it takes just as long or possibly longer to make, but then again you are making Italian food and therefore allowed expected to drink wine as you cook. Even if you start at noon. It's good to be Italian.

adapted from Tessa Kiros, Twelve
for I♥CC, Winter Wonderland

You will need:
1 batch ragu (about 1 litre/ 4 cups)
1 batch fresh pasta (about 1 lb, 7 oz)
1 batch bechamel sauce (about 1 litre/ 4 cups)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese
1 lasagne pan
Lots of red wine

Preheat oven to 350°F
Spread a little bechamel on the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of noodles down. Follow with a layer of ragu, some more bechamel, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and another layer of noodles. Keep going, making as many layers as you can - at least four.
Top with mozzarella and bake 30 minutes. Broil for a minute to toast cheese on top. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes. Serve with Caesar salad and garlic toast. And more wine. Of course. 


Big splash olive oil
¼ oz dried mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water and chopped (reserve water)
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
12 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
Kosher salt
Hot pepper flakes
500 g (1 lb, 2 oz) ground beef
2 Italian sausages, crumbled, or 4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped fine
1 bunch chard or kale, chopped
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups red wine
Basil, oregano, and thyme - to taste.
1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Heat up the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot on medium/high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add ½ the garlic and continue to stir. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt and a good pinch of hot pepper flakes.
Add in your sausage or bacon and continue to cook, stirring regularly.
Add in your ground beef, breaking it up with your spoon or spatula.
When the meat is cooked through, add in the tomatoes and the wine, as well as the chard or kale,  mushrooms and mushroom water. Add in a big pinch each of basil, oregano, and thyme.
Let come to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Add in the second amount of garlic and the chopped parsley at the end. This gives a fresh taste to the sauce.

Egg Pasta
450g (1 lb) AP flour
1 tsp salt
4-5 eggs

Pulse flour and salt in the food processor. Add 4 eggs and continue to pulse. Add the other if you need it to get the dough to come together. It should be stiff but pliable play-doh. Not dry, but not too soft either. Finish kneading by hand and wrap in plastic. Let rest on the counter for a half hour.
Roll into lasagne sheets using your pasta roller. I use the KitchenAid ones. Go by manufacturer's instructions.

To cook: Set a large pot to boil, salt liberally. Add a splash of olive oil so they don't stick. Add pasta and stir now and then to make sure they are not sticking. Boil about 4 minutes, or until softened.

You can either lay cooked noodles on a cloth or oiled sheet pan.

1 litre (4 cups) whole milk - warmed
100 g (3½ oz) butter
80 g (3 oz) AP flour
fresh grated nutmeg

In a large saucepan, heat up butter on medium. Add in flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add warm milk in by ladle-full, whisking well with each addition. Season to taste (liberally) with salt, pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg.

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