Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lasagne alla Bolognese fatto in casa!

IE: Homemade lasagna! From scratch!

This is probably the best lasagna I've had in a VERY long time, and may be the best. It certainly rivals my moms lasagna which is fantastic! As a Christmas gift Josh and I received the KitchenAid mixer attachment for rolling out pasta and we thought it was time to test it out. Josh decided that he was going to make lasagne, one of the most complicated pastas to make... But it was so worth it! It was something fun for the two of us to do. I would recommend taking an afternoon with your special someone and spending some time in the kitchen on this one. It was a fun day of bonding over pasta.

A question that was raised during our afternoon of cooking: Is it worth it to make homemade noodles? Does it make that much of a difference? Well, we tested that question and decided that YES! Homemade noodles are so much better!

Lasagne alla Bolognese al Forno
Courtesy of Mario Batali

Prep Time: we didn't time... but it took all afternoon (probably 3-4 hours)
Baking time: 45 minutes
Yield: 2, 9x13 pans of lasagne (or 1 10x20 pan)

To assemble you will need:
-2.5 pounds green pasta dough (see Step 3)
-ragu bolognese (see Step 1)
-8 oz freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
-3.5 cups besciamella (see Step 2)

Step 1: Make the Ragu Bolognese
-1/4 cup EVOO
-2 medium onions, finely chopped
-4 ribs celery, finely chopped
-2 carrots, finely chopped
-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
-1 pound ground veal
-1 pound ground pork
-4 oz. pancetta or slab bacon (grind if you have a butchers grinder), we just chopped until it resembled ground pancetta
-1 six oz. can tomato paste
-1 cup whole milk
-1 cup dry white wine (we use pinot grigio)
-1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (dried will work just as well)
-salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. In a 6-8 quart pot, heat olive oil over med heat until hot. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are translucent but not browned (about 5 minutes).

2. Add veal, pork and pancetta. Increase heat to high and brown the meat. Stir frequently.

3. Add tomato paste, milk, wine and thyme and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1-1.5 hours.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat and let cool.

NOTE: the ragu can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Step 2: Make the Besciamella (3.5 cups). Please see my Cannelloni post for the recipe. Set aside and let cool.

Step 3: Make the Pasta
(makes about 1.25 pounds)
-3.5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
-5 large eggs
-one cup packed spinach
- 2 tbsp EVOO

1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in large pot and add 1 tbsp salt. Set up an ice back next to the stove (a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes). Blanch 1 cup packed spinach leaves in boiling water for 45 seconds, then remove with slotted spoon and immediately immerse into the ice bath for 2 minutes. Drain the spinach and squeeze it dry in a kitchen towel. Remove as much moisture as possible. Chop spinach very fine and combine with eggs in a small bowl. Stir well until as smooth as possible.

2. Mound flour in the center of a large wooden board. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the egg/spinach mixture. Using a fork beat the eggs together and then begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together. Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, set the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits of dough.

3. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

4. Divide the pasta dough into 8 portions. Roll each one out through the thinnest setting on a pasta machine and lay sheets on a lightly floured surface to dry to 10 minutes. Cut the pasta into 5 inch squares and cover with a damp kitchen towel.

5. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tbsp salt.  Set up an ice bath next to the stovetop and add the 2 tbsp EVOO. Drop pasta into boiling water (6 or 7 pieces at a time) and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to the ice bath to cool, then drain on kitchen towels laying the pasta flat.

Step 4: Assemble the troops!

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Assemble the lasagne in a 10x20 in pan (or two 9x13 pans): spread a layer of ragu over the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with Parmigiano, add a layer of pasta, a layer of besciamella, another layer of ragu, Parmigiano, and pasta. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of pasta topped with besciamella and a sprinkling of Parmigiano.

3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until edges are browned and the sauces are bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving (if you can!).


We ended up putting one of the pans of lasagna into the freezer after we baked it. We hope to have some friends over to help us eat it in the near future :)

Batali, M. (2005). Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian recipes to cook at home. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers Inc.

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