Sunday, December 26, 2010

Baked Green Lasagne with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style

This recipe is a bit intense to say the least, so what better time to make it than a lazy Christmas weekend when I have all the time in the world to cook exactly what I want to eat? This lasagna recipe also isn't what I traditionally think of. There's no ricotta, no overabundance of mozzarella, and it's more pasta intense. I took a huge short cut by not making my own lasagna noodles and I'm sorry to say the dish definitely suffered for it. I should've at least gone to Milano's to pick up some homemade noodles, but schedules being what they are, I didn't find the time and used boxed noodles. If I ever make this again with boxed noodles, I'd definitely make the bolognese layers thicker. They were too thin for pasta that was less than exceptional. My only other major complaint with this dish is I didn't check the seasoning after I added the bolognese to the bechamel and ended up with a dish that was severely underseasoned (1/4 tsp salt for the bechamel is not enough!). Despite the flaws, this is a great change of pace from my usual lasagna.

Baked Green Lasagne with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style (from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

2 1/2 cups bolognese sauce (this time I made it with equal amounts of ground beef, veal, and pork)
homemade spinach lasagna noodles (see head notes)
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
For the bechamel
3 cups milk
6 tbsp butter
4 1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt

1. Prepare the meat sauce and set aside. Note: If you've decided to increase the amount of bolognese you're making from the original recipe so you'll have some leftovers, be sure to allow for extra time in the simmering process.
2. Prepare the bechamel:
a. Put the milk in a saucepan, turn the heat to medium low, and bring the milk just to the verge of boiling.
b. Meanwhile, put the butter in a saucepan and turn heat to low. When the butter has melted, add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
c. Add hot milk to the flour and butter mixture, no more than 2 tbsp at a time. Stirring until it is incorporate, then add more. Repeat. When you get to 1/2 cup mixture, you can start adding more at one time.
d. Place the pan over low heat, add salt, and cook, stirring until the sauce is as dense as a thick cream. Keep warm.
3. [I'm omitting a very long discussion of how to handle your homemade noodles. Noodles are cooking, washed, wringed, and dried.] Preheat the oven to 400F.
4. Thickly smear the bottom of a lasagna pan with butter and 1 tbsp bechamel.
5. Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of pasta strips.
6. Combine the meat sauce and bechamel [BE SURE TO CHECK THE SEASONING!].
7. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the pasta [if you're using boxed noodles, you might want to make this a thick layer].
8. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese.
9. Top with pasta and repeat your layering. If you're using homemade noodles, you should have at least 6 layers of pasta. You'll probably want fewer layers if you're using boxed. On the very top, dot the Parmesan with butter.
10. Bake until a light, golden crust forms on top, 10 - 15 minutes.
11. Remove from oven and allow to settle for 10 minutes.

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