Monday, April 16, 2012

Classic Bolognese Lasagna

Happy Monday readers! This weekend I had the pleasure of babysitting my one-month-old nephew Jonathan for a few hours. He's a total cutie.

This pic is a little old because I didn't get a good one of me and him, but you get the idea.

While I cuddled with him, Justin got started on our dinner — classic bolognese lasagna.

We actually didn't know that this version was classic: we thought we were being really clever and original by pairing béchamel sauce with bolognese in a lasagna. No cheese at all. Later we found out that this is actually a very traditional way of making lasagna. Oh well.

We made ours with homemade pasta sheets, homemade béchamel and of course homemade bolognese. If you only make one thing from scratch here, make sure it's the bolognese. Or both sauces. Though if I'm going to push you, make the pasta too. It completely transforms lasagna.

{Printable Recipe}
For the béchamel:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3/4 quart whole milk
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
pinch nutmeg
Salt & Pepper

For the bolognese:
1 lb ground beef
1 cup white wine
1 cup stock (chicken, beef, or veggie)
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes (these are naturally sweet and not tinny, so you don't need sugar or a carrot to balance the acidity)
1 onion
1 clove garlic

Pasta sheets


Now I promise, this looks complicated, but it's all really simple, there are just a lot of steps involved.

For the béchamel, melt the butter in a pan.

When it's melted, add the flour and whisk it in. Let this cook for two minutes.

Slowly whisk in the milk. Let this simmer for ten minutes or so until it gets nice and thick. Add the Parmesan and the nutmeg.

You know it's ready when it coats the back of a spoon and you can run your finger through it without it running all over the place. Like this:

If it gets TOO thick, like really gloopy, just add more milk. 
If it looks too thin, just let it cook a while longer.

For the bolognese, brown the meat in a pan. Drain if you need to. Add stock and wine, let it reduce until it's a light sauce.

In a SEPARATE pan, cook the tomatoes, garlic, and onion in some olive oil for fifteen minutes. Blend in a food processor or blender until it's nice and smooth.

Then combine the two sauces. For some reason, this makes the most delicious bolognese ever. Something about not actually cooking the meat in the red sauce makes it more complex and lighter at the same time.

Meanwhile, par-boil your pasta sheets for one minute until they're just soft. Keep them on an oiled cookie sheet until you're ready to use them.

Now to assemble!
This isn't a science. Just layer the sauces with the pasta. No cheeses needed.

That's a LOT of lasagna.

This is it after we baked it at 350 for 45 minutes.

This lasagna is so light and delicious. We ate practically half of it in one sitting.



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