Entree - Main occasions
One time I've been asked the ORIGINAL recipe for lasagna. I answered that there is a different recipe for every Italian family... This is my recipe!! It may take long to prepare it but it will reward you!!!
1 pkg of Italian egg lasagna sheets (about 1 lb) or make your own
4 cups Parmigiano Reggiano (or Grana Padano), grated
4 cups milk
4 tbsp 00 flour
Bolognese meat sauce
1 lb ground beef (not too lean, not too fat)
3 sausages, chopped
6 tbsp of a mix of onions, carrots, celery and parsley, finely chopped
4 tbsp extra vigin olive oil
2 28oz cans Italian San Marzano
1 cup of white wine
First of all, prepare the meat sauce: warm olive oil in a big saucepan over medium heat; when ready, sautee the vegetable mix for 3-4 minutes.
Now add ground beef and sausages and cook them over high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking.
At this point you can add wine (always on high heat) and let alcohol evaporate; turn the heat to medium and add the tomatoes.
Season with salt, pepper if desired; when it starts boiling, turn heat to minimum and simmer the sauce (covered with a lid) for at least 2 1/2 hours (the longer, the better) stirring occasionally.
Remember that it's better to cook this sauce for a longer time at the lowest heat possible instead of cooking it quickly.
While the meat sauce cooks, prepare the bechamel: in a little saucepan, warm up the milk.
In another, bigger, saucepan put the flour, a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg and mix; then, slowly add the warm milk whisking to prevent lumps.
Put the saucepan on medium-low heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly (to prevent sticking on bottom), then remove from heat.
Your meat sauce is still cooking... bring a pot of water to a boil and line you countertop with clean kitchen cloths (white, if possible). When water boils, add salt and 3-4 tbsp of oil.
Boil lasagna sheets, not more than 2-3 at a time, for about 2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon and line them on the cloths. Don't overlap them or they'll overcook and stick to each other.
Once you pre-cooked all you sheets, assemble the lasagna.
Preheat oven to 385.
Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan and spread a thin layer of bechamel and meat sauce. Layer pasta, spread with bechamel and top with meat sauce: don't overdo, 1/2" of each sauce will be enough. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and repeat until you finish ingredients.
Finish with bechamel, top with meat sauce and sprinkle with Parmigiano.
My mom's final touch: she cuts 1 or 2 sausages in rounds and put a round on each portion.
Bake on central rack for 35-40 minutes.
This recipe serves 8-12 people (depending on the number of layers and what else is served).
- Don't worry about the wine in the meat sauce, as said the alcohol evaporates, leaving just its flavor.
- The original bechamel recipe actually requires the use of butter: I avoid it and use skimmed milk to make it lighter.
- DON'T use Italian sausages: they have fennel seeds here in the United States (not in most parts of Italy) and fennel seeds are a strong flavor. You won't taste anything else.
- You can prepare bechamel and meat sauce the day before and assamble the same day.
- To have a crunchier crust on top, mix Parmigiano with and equal quantity of very fine, non-flavored breadcrumbs.