As Christmas is drawing near, I can’t help but think about the things that make this season so special and beloved. Among precious family, friends and not to mention presents, all of my memories are laced with the smells of my grandmas cooking. The smell of great food is always music to my nose, but food made well and made from the heart seem to find a way to engrain a way into your memories. Upon stumbling on Tyler Florences Dinner at My Place cookbook, I flipped open to a recipe that made the price of the cookbook irrelevant (even though it was only 20 dollars). The lasagna seemed to jump of the page, into my mouth and scream ” I AM THE BEST THING YOU WILL EVER EAT!”, naturally I agreed with the lasagna and bought the book.
Now, let’s get real. I LOVE to cook. LOVE TO COOK! Some of the steps may be a little more advanced, but not too bad! You CAN make this. You HAVE TO make this! I regret not taking good photos the whole way through but I did take one at the end! Heres the recipe. I dare you to try it and promise you wont regret it.
- 1 recipe fresh pasta dough (see page 27 of Dinner at My Place) (or use up your pantry packaged lasagna noodles like I did : )
- 2 carrots, cut into large pieces
- 1 large onion, cut into large pieces
- 3 ribs celery, cut into large pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 fresh sage sprigs, leaves only
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef (I used black angus, we prefer this much more)
- 1 pound ground pork (I couldn’t locate ground pork so I used spicy Italian sausage)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine (I only had 1/2 bottle left and used only 1/2) (Don’t worry DBU people. We made it at my parents house :))
- 1-28 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes (I usually use Red Gold brand)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I didn’t add this, I was afraid my husband wouldn’t like it)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 2 cups whole milk (I used 2%, I don’t usually have whole)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound buffalo mozzarella, torn into pieces
- 1/4 grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
Begin by making the Fresh Pasta Dough or by soaking your packaged noodles in a bowl of hot water, turning so they can soften.
To make bolognese, put carrot, onion, clelery, garlic and sage in a food processor and process until you have smooth vegetable pulp. coat a large, heavy-based pot with oil and set over mediium heat. Add vegetable pulp and saute until fragrant and some of the moisture has evaporated, 4-5 minutes. Push the vegetable pulp to one side of the pot. Season ground beef and pork with plenty of salt and pepper, then add to the pot. Stir and break up the meat until it is brown, then dust with the 2 tbsp. of flour before adding wine, tomatoes, milk, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 1-1/2 hours, uncovered, until sauce is thick. Add parmesan and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the Bechamel.
To make the Bechamel, set a large saucepan over medium heat. Add milk, garlic, and a bay leaf and bring to a simmer to infuse milk with herb flavors. Set a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add butter and melt, then sprinkle in flour while you stir with a wooden spoon. Once all of the flour has been combined with the butter, grab a whisk and gradually pour in the herb-infused milk, passing it through a sieve as you go to strain out the aromatics. As the sauce thickens, continue to whisk over low heat, then add nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 350F. To assemble the lasagna, cut the hang-dried pasta sheets to fit a 9x13x3″ lasagna pan; set the pasta aside. Coat the bottom of the lasagna pan with a thin layer of Bechamel. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, trimming noodles to fit as necessary. Top the noodle layer with a layer each of Bechamel, Bolognese, and mozzarella pieces. Continue with the layers of lasagna noodles, Bechamel, Bolognese, and mozzarella pieces until you have three complete layers, finishing with mozzarella. Shower the top of the lasagna with Parmesan and parsley. Bake, uncovered, on a trap (to catch the drippings) in the center of the preheated oven for 1 hour. (If the top starts to brown, tent with foil). Let the lasagna stand for 15-20 minutes before cutting.
By the way…be on the look out for recipes for some incredible pot roast tacos (changed my life) and some of the best carrot cake of all time! Consider them my Christmas present to you and yours! Along with a wedding and some other goodies on the way this week!