Lasagna RecipeWritten by CMP on January 25, 2009
Lasagna really does require a lot of effort, which is probably why I don't make it that often. But The Drummer Boy was coming over with his family for dinner and he wasn't shy about submitting a menu request. Okay, so what if I asked him what he wanted? Couldn't he have made it easy on me and said "cheeseburgers" ?
Step One - The Gravy
Make your favorite homemade tomato sauce. Make it with meat, or without - but whatever you do DON'T USE JARRED sauce. In my mind, they're all second rate to a pot you've lovingly simmered for several hours. Your guests are worth the effort (and so are you).
Step Two - The Meat
- Two Lbs Ground Beef
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbs Kosher Salt
- 1 Cup Homemade Tomato Sauce (see above)
- 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Tarragon, chopped
Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and just when it begins to shimmer, add the ground beef and salt. Brown the meat well, cooking it for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add the sauce and bread crumbs and stir well. Reduce heat to medium and simmer another 5 minutes. Add the tarragon, mix well and remove from the heat. Set aside until you're ready to assemble the lasagna.
Step Three - The Cheese
- Two Lbs Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside until you're ready to assemble the lasagna. If you're using fancy freshly made ricotta, you'll probably want to drain it really, really, well before using. Otherwise be prepared for lasagna soup.
Step Four - The Build
- All of the above
- About 32-35 Lasagna Noodles
- 1 1/2 Cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 13"x9"x3" Lasagna Pan
Fill your favorite pasta pot with water and 3 Tbs of Salt. Bring to a boil and drop in 8 of the lasagna noodles. The method here is to cook the noodles until they're just pliable - no where near done. You only want them soft enough to bend in your pan. With each set of noodle, they'll only need about 2-3 minutes in the boiling water to reach this state.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Begin by coating the bottom of your pan with sauce. Layer the first batch of noodles on the bottom of the pan and bending them so they cover the sides. Be sure to overlap the noodles so all the ingredients stay inside. For the ends of the pan, stand noodles up along the sides. Don't worry about it looking perfect at this point, you mostly won't see much of this in the end.
Add six more noodles to the pot of water. While they're cooking, spread the meat mixture on top of the noodle base. Use a spoon to even it all out. When the noodles are done, press them on top of the meat mixture. Again, overlap the noodles slightly.
Add another six noodles to the water. While these are cooking, spread the cheese mixture on top of the second layer of noodles, and top with your newly cooked noodles. Now toss the last six lasagna noodles into the boiling water.
Cover the ricotta mixture with a last layer of noodles. If the tops of your bottom layer are still peeking through, fold them down to make a neat package. Spread some more of the sauce on top, then cover the whole lot with grated mozzarella cheese.
Cover with tin foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil, raise heat to 350, and bake for another 30 minutes - until the top is brown and bubbly. Let stand about 10 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with garlic bread whenever possible.