Creamy, Traditional Lasagne

Posted on 01 June 2010

As you may have gathered, I am more than slightly obsessed with Italian food and I also love the combination of veal, pork and beef. With those two things in mind, I often make this lasagne. The ragu I make is pretty old World, from the fresh herbs I use to the mixture of the meats, even down to the addition celery. I challenge you not to feel like an authentic Italian grandma when you have this ragu simmering on your stove.

Even though the cooking time is fairly long, it is mostly inactive; aside from a couple of stirs every now and then to make sure everything is cooking together, you are free to watch television, read a book, wash your hair or do whatever it is you want to do. I usually make the meat sauce on a quiet night when I am home and use the lingering fragrance the same way some people use Febreze or Glade plugins. When you make the sauce ahead, the dish is a snap to make. All that is left is just a quick batch of bechamel. I use the same basic white sauce that I use all the time, with slightly less nutmeg than I use in my Homemade Cannelloni. To add some creaminess, I add marscapone and for some saltiness, freshly grated Parmesan.

To serve, I made a green salad with tomatoes and mozzarella with a white balsamic vinaigrette with a few drops of white truffle oil.

Notes: As you will notice in the pictures, this lasagne is very saucy. By that I do not mean a little bit naughty or cheeky but gooey, sloppy and kind of messy to eat. Personally I love this, it think intermingling sauces and pasta are great in this case. Originally however, the hubby was not a huge fan. The first time I made this for him he asked why it did not look like Olive Garden’s lasagne. Not being familiar with any Olive Garden entrees, we did a recon trip. Having eaten the large, generic tasting block of food, I was able to explain the reason for the cafeteria presentation as pleasantly as I was able. The reason is they freeze their lasgane in bulk and then nuke squares in the microwave to order. So if your lasagne collapses as you are putting it on the plate, know that you did something right! :)

Creamy, Traditional Lasagne, serves 4-6 as an entree
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz ground veal
12 oz ground pork
8 oz ground chuck
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup red wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
5 parsley sprigs
5 thyme sprigs
4 sage leaves
1/2 rosemary stem
1 bay leaf

1. Heat large saucepan over medium high heat. Add olive oil, once heated add onions, celery, carrot. Season with a pinch of salt, put a lid on the pan and turn heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Add garlic, replace lid and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn heat back up to medium high, add meats. Using a large wooden spoon, break up the meat and brown.

3. Add milk, simmer until absorbed. Add wine, tomatoes and herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium low and cook for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour, simmering gently.

Bechamel (White Sauce), makes 3 cups
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
Freshly ground nutmeg, to season

1. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt butter. Add flour, whisking constantly to combine, cook for 1 minute until flour is cooked. Continuing to whisk, slowly begin adding milk. Once all the milk is added and while whisking bring sauce to a boil and then reduce to a light simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom of the saucepan. Remove from heat and season with salt and nutmeg.

To assemble the lasagne…
6 De Cecco lasgane sheets
4 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 350F. Pour half the ragu into an 8 by 8 inch baking dish.

2. Layer with 3 lasagne sheets.

3. Pour on half the bechamel and top with mascarpone.

4. Layer the rest of the ragu.

5. Add second 3 lasagne sheets.

6. Finish with the rest of the bechamel and sprinkle with Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

7. Cook for 45 minutes, until the sauces are bubbling.

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