Lasagna Bolognese

It’s Sunday! Meaning there’s only 4.5 days of work left until we drive a long ways away to the northeast for the holidays. Meaning, there’s more chances of crazy children this week. I will probably have to be institutionalized after this week of work.

Holidays means lots of gift giving. I don’t like receiving gifts as much I enjoy giving them. Is that weird? Maybe I should be institutionalized already.

I got an AMAZING cookbook from my lovely mother-in-law filled with drool worthy recipes. The pictures are the best part…I could so easily be entertained by pictures of food for hours.

Well in this cookbook, one recipe immediately stood out: lasagna bolognese. I just recently watched Anthony Bourdain in Naples, Italy, and in the episode, there was a grandmother (who stood about 3 feet tall) who made a ridiculously good looking bolognese. It was filled with veal, pork, and beef and simmered for what I believe at least 5 hours. Could you imagine?7

But one problem with today’s cooking expedition: dog problems and lack of grocery stores. The dog had her 3rd vet trip in 24 hours today so that was exhausting in itself. I was not in the mood to go hunting down for the ingredients called for in the recipe. But even if I did have the energy, I live in Pensacola. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until a couple months before we moved here. Here, in the land of Pensacola (and as I have said numerous times before), there is nothing. By nothing, I mean it’s hard to find a lot of ingredients, such as pancetta and veal. Not kidding, it’s hard to find veal. It’s simply not in demand here in the Panhandle. And when I need Asian ingredients? Forget it. There’s one Vietnamese store that doesn’t scream “murder house” and even in there, there’s not much. One time, when we were driving down from Atlanta, I randomly decided to look up “Korean grocery” on Yelp and indeed, there was one in Montgomery, Alabama. Yes, I went Korean food shopping 3 hours away from home because it does NOT exist here.

End complaint rampage. So what I was originally attempting to say above was that I just wasn’t in the mood to go find veal and pancetta for this recipe. As I always do in cooking, improversation (google Michael Scott) is key. Or, just elimination of ingredients and still making it taste good. So I’ll be honest. I’m typing this post up as I lay in bed with the dog. If you’re a crazy dumbass like me, you’ll make the lasagna pasta sheets (see my ravioli recipes for how to make homemade pasta). It took quite a bit of work to make the pasta but I know it’ll be worth it.

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You’re going to look below and ask “What about ricotta cheese?” No ricotta cheese here. The recipe calls for a bechamel sauce, as well as whole milk in the bolognese. Strange but I’m excited. I know as Americans, we’re used to lasagna that has loads of ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese, along with tangy spaghetti sauce but not today. Not. Today. The bechamel sauce was basically a replacement for the ricotta cheese…I think. Let’s just go with that. But man…this bolognese sauce is just to die for. Yes, it takes a while. But it’s worth it. Really worth it.

So with that, I present to you my improversised (it’s a word now) lasagna bolognese.

Time: 3-4 hours (mostly from letting the sauce simmer)

Ingredients:

Bolognese sauce

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 red onion, diced
3-4 minced garlic cloves
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 can tomatoes, blended until smooth
1 can tomato paste
2 cups water
Fresh parmigiano reggiano
extra virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes
dash of salt, pepper, and sugar

1. In a pot, heat up the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots.

2. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have become translucent.

3. Add garlic, ground beef, and ground pork.

4. Saute until the meat is cooked through. Add the blended tomatoes, tomato paste, red chili flakes, cheese, and water.

5. Allow to come to a boil while mixing.

6. Let simmer for 2.5 hours. Add salt, sugar, and pepper to your tasting.

Bechamel Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
dash of nutmeg and salt

1. In a pot, melt the butter over medium high heat.

2. In a separate pot, warm up the milk.

3. Add the flour and whisk. You want to cook the flour with the butter, so lower the heat and continue to whisk for about 1 minute.

4. Add warmed milk, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk.

5. Allow this mixture to boil until thickened, about 5 minutes.

6. Set aside and allow to cool.

Lasagna Preparation

Bolognese sauce
Bechamel sauce
Shredded fresh mozzarella
Fresh lasagna sheets

1. Butter your baking dish.

2. Layer the bottom with sauce.

3. Alternating with mozzarella cheese, bechamel sauce, bolognese sauce, and fresh pasta sheets (or store bought), assemble your lasagna! Top off with bechamel sauce and bolognese.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F until bubbly.

Enjoy!

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