Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homemade Lasagna


Lasagna is one dish that I have been intimidated of cooking since time immemorial. No more I say! Thanks to chef Michael Smith's excellent recipe, homemade lasagna is easy to make. It's an extremely tasty recipe, the only downsides being that it's rather expensive to make, and messy as well. Without further ado - the Speedy Lasagna!

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1x28 ounce can tomatoes, crushed or pureed
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup 35% cream
  • 475 grams (1 pound) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Assembly

  • 1 box of ready-to-bake lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepot and add the onions.
  2. Sauté until they soften and turn golden brown, about 5 minutes, and then add the garlic.
  3. Sauté a few moments more then add the ground beef and sausage meat.
  4. Chop the meats thoroughly with a spoon to break them up into small pieces.
  5. Add the tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, beef stock, oregano, basil, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
  6. Stir well and heat until the entire mixture is simmering and heated through.
  7. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cheese Sauce

  1. Whisk eggs and cream together, then stir in the cheeses.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Layer the ingredients together in a 9" x 13" x 3" or other baking pan.
  3. Follow this sequence: a cup or so of sauce, a layer of noodles, half of the cheese sauce, one third of the grated Parmesan, noodle layer, meat sauce layer, noodle layer, remaining cheese sauce, one third of the grated Parmesan, noodle layer, remaining meat sauce, remaining Parmesan.
  4. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  5. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of cooking to allow the top to get golden and crusty.
Now I do vary the recipe somewhat. What I do is also mince (or use a food processor) three or four bunches of spinach to put into the cheese sauce. Also, I find that putting some extra mozzarella or cheddar cheese on top 15 minutes before the lasagna is supposed to be ready is also quite tasty. Instead of italian sausages you can use ground veal, or put in an extra 1/2 pound or 1 pound of ground beef. Add other veggies (sweet peppers and tomatoes work well in this recipe, and I already mentioned spinach) and remove the meet (and put in some extra cheese) for a vegetarian lasagna. Bon appettit!