Monday, January 26, 2015

Lasagne alla Bolognese

I took another local cooking class in November.  (The last one was tomatoes in August.)  We learned how to make an authentic lasagna, fried calzones, chocolate salami, and pumpkin spice cappuccinos.  (I just had pumpkin-spiced sweet warm milk; I was thinking of adding white chocolate at home one time to make a pumpkin-spice white hot chocolate.)  Since the class was in the evening, my pics didn't turn out super well, so all of the pictures on this post are of the lasagna I made myself, just recently, using the same recipe that we learned in the class.
I'm lucky in that I live in Italy (understatement) and can just go to any local grocery store and buy the ingredients to make this dish (and they don't cost and arm and a leg). You can use any hard cheese you want; I used Parm-Reg, an aged Asiago, and an aged smoked ricotta.   I loved the combo.  In class we used similar cheeses; I think subbing Grana Padano for the Parm-Reg.
Italian lasagna differs from its American counterpart in that Italians don't use ricotta cheese or ground beef in lasagna.  Instead of ricotta, we made a cheese-infused bechamel (white) sauce, and ground pork, veal, and pancetta instead of ground beef.  All the meats were easy for me to find here at my butcher counter.  I didn't even know ground pancetta was a thing, but they ground it right there for me.  I've never bought veal before, but it was worth it to make this dish.  You could probably sub with more ground pork.
Lasagne alla Bolognese
adapted from Cooking with Lucas

Meat Ragu:
3-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 carrot, finely, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
500g veal, ground (about 1 pound)
500g pork, ground (about 1 pound)
1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, ground (about 115 grams)
1/2 tube tomato paste
1 cup milk
1 cup dry white wine or good-quality chicken broth (may need more)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

Bechamel Sacue:
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating (or a mix of fave hard cheeses)

1 package fresh lasagna noodles
Optional: whole chopped almonds and sliced green olives (used in class but not at home)

1. For the ragu bolognese: In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine or broth and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from heat. (Should not be very "saucy".  If it dries out though, add more wine or broth.)

2.  For the besciamella: In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat milk in separate pan (or microwave) until just about to boil. Add milk to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.  Add freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and any other cheeses you want.  Taste and add more salt or cheese if necessary.

3.  For assembly: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a lasagna pan, assemble the lasagna; beginning with a layer of the meat ragu, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano, layer on the lasagna noodles (single layer), a layer of bechamel, a layer of ragu, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano etc. until all sauce and pasta are used up. The top layer should be pasta with bechamel over it. (I ran out of bechamel and had to make a tiny batch just to cover the top.... lol).  Top the lasagne with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are browned and the sauces are bubbling. Remove and allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing. (Or 5-10..... if you're like we are... lol!)

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LadyJayPee said...

I bet that was outstanding! I love the idea of béchamel sauce rather than ricotta; I've never really liked the ricotta in lasagne.

Debbie Carter said...

There isn't much that a béchamel sauce doesn't make better! I love the veal/pork combo!

What a Dish! said...

Thanks ladies. :)

Katie Richmond said...

These look delicious! I haven't been checking my blogroll in a LONG time and didn't even realize you'd moved. Are you coming back to the states this summer? You are always welcome here--we're still in the same house in Ellensburg!

What a Dish! said...

Katie- thanks so much; you are so kind! We will be coming back but don't know our plans yet. We will be in WA for a little bit though, we know that. I will keep you posted.

Katie Richmond said...

:) You can get in touch with me at chicklegirl(at)yahoo(dot)com. XXOO