ISO you best lasagna recipe
- KellBell Jul 2, 2006 05:49 AM
I am just looking for ideas for a great lasagna . . . thanks =0)
It's WAY too long too type out. Especially the instructions for the homemade pasta. And trying to paraphrase it would be criminal. It's from her classic Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which you ought to be able to find in a library. Heck, no one ought to be without the book in their own library. There's not a recipe in there that's not a gem. Buy it, or get someone to give it to you as a gift. You'll use it the rest of your life.
The book is a classic for anyone interested in Italian cooking. Techniques and ingredients are described in detail with good drawings. Hazan's recipes are in good agreement with what I learnt from my Italian roommates (2 from Bologna, 1 from Florence, 1 from Venice). I've had my copy over 20 years and still refer to it regularly. You won't regret buying it.
I find that whatever recipe I use, its made better by not cooking the noodles. You don't have to use "no boil" pasta, just use regular lasagna pasta by putting a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan, then layer stiff unboiled pasta on top, more sauce, fresh spinach and tomatoes, ricotta and mozzarella, another layer of noodles and then ground turkey or some other meat, sauce, cheese, etc to the top. Add a layer of parmsian at the top and bake for about 45 minutes...the best
My favorite lasagne recipe comes from my mother. She is/was not a cook by any stretch of the imagination, but this one she got right! (Or, she got the right basic ingredients at least ;)
I have tweaked with it a bit - where she would use no-boil noodles, I enjoy fresh egg pasta sheets. Her meat sauce recipe was made bland by adding only canned tomatoes to ground beef; I follow a traditional bolognese meat sauce recipe. Her mozzarella was the brick sort, and I like fresh mozzarella. Hers was topped with aisle-bought parmesan, and I use fresh grated.
So it's simple:
Layer of sauce on bottom of pan
Layer of fresh egg pasta sheets
Layer of sauce
Layer of bolognese sauce
Mix tub of ricotta cheese with 1 egg and layer
Layer of sauce
Layer of bolognese sauce
Layer of ricotta mixture
Layer of grated fresh mozarella
Light layer of grated fresh parmesan
Cover with tinfoil and bake about 35/45 minutes. Take off tinfoil and let the top brown.
I really like Giada Delarentis' butternut squash lasgna. You can find it on foodtv.com.
It's a great vegetarian alternative and it's different.
Lasagna Bolognese - made with a bechamel sauce instead of ricotta.
I don't use a specific recipe; just my own bolognese sauce and a basic bechamel. Here's a link to a recipe online that's similar except I use ground veal, pork and beef instead of all beef: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...
When using uncooked Lasagna noodles, I add red wine before putting in the oven...
That always assures that there'll be enough moisture to do the job...
Otherwise you can sometimes end up with 'dense & pasty'...
I make a tomato sauce with peppers, onion and ground beef. Use whatever recipe you like. I take a tub or ricotta cheese, mix with a beaten egg, some fresh grated parm and a crumbled and rendered italian sausage. Of course I grate a ton of mozza.
Skim a bit of the tomato sauce off to make a bit of a liquid bottom of the dish. Layer on lasagna noodles (Uncooked), tomato/meat sauce and then mozza. Then add the ricotta/sausage mix and a light layer of mozza. More noodles and repeat the first layer. Top with noodles and a thin layer of sauce. Then lots of mozza and parm. Make sure the parm is on top. Cover and back 45 mins @ 350* and then 15 mins uncovered. Remove from oven and let stand 15 mins.
If you want it to be really great, find some fresh egg noodle sheets, or roll your own out... if you're going to make the sauce from scratch, why waste it on boxed noodles?
But if you want a fast and easy lasagna using boxed noodles, I found the Barilla tomato/basil jarred sauce to be a good one to use in a pinch, along with some crumbled italian sausage, ricotta mixed with egg, mozarella, parm, and parsley, and of course, grated mozarella on top.
But if you're going to make fresh bolognese, don't waste your effort with boxed noodles! Par boil them, toss them in a bit of olive oil, and then layer them with your sauce and cheese!
I make my sauce w/two cleaned pigs feet, sauteed and browned a bit, with one chopped onion for ten minutes, add two cloves chopped garlic, cook 1 minute more. Add 1/2 c. red wine, simmer 5 min, while scrapping bottom of pan. Add 1 can of Muir Glen tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Add 1/2 can of water (from tomato can). Bring to a simmer, add salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Let cook, while stirring (every few minutes) for one hr., on medium low (depends on stovetop). You want a little bubble, but not burning the bottom. I discard the pigs feet, just using it for flavor (but my elder relatives used to love them).
One large container of Ricotta cheese, 3 eggs.
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (my tweak).
Grated fresh Parmigano Reggiano
1 pkg. barilla no boil lasagna noodles
Shred cheddar (don't use pre-shredded), and add to bowl, add ricotta and eggs, mix well.
In the bottom on a 10 x 9, or 9 x 13 retangular baking dish, add two ladels full of sauce. Add lasagna noodles, and overlap a bit, even breaking noodles to completely cover layers. Add heaping spoonfuls of ricotta mixture, dollop-like. No need to spread, it will do that in baking. Don't leave too much space between dollups, be generous with the cheese. Add spoonfuls of sauce, again, not spreading, just be sure it's enough, but not sopping wet. Add a good amount of parm. in your hand and sprinkle over the sauce. Repeat this again. Then add another layer of noodle, and parm. cheese. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, and cover lasagna for 20 minutes, uncover and cook for another twenty minutes. Let sit for 15 min. before serving.
This recipe is from memory. I have been making it for over 40 years. I am a firm believer, that once you make a batch or two, you will perfect it, and be able to tweak it, to make it the way you really like. Just be patient the first couple of tries.
As a chef, I would never give you my signature lasagne recipe.
However, I will give you a few tips to make a really elegant lasagne.
1. Fresh spinach noodles are necessary for both color and flavor.
2. Don't add too much red wine to your bolognese sauce. I find the taste overwhelming. Use some chicken stock too, for awesome flavor.
3. Use ground veal in your bolognese, rather than beef. A few slices of small diced bacon doesn't hurt either.
4. If you intend to use a bechamel in your lasagne, enrich it by whipping in extra egg yolks away from the heat. That way, you can use a little bit in each layer and put a healthy layer on top to bake before you finish with grated cheese. This will form a thick, spongy bechamel "mousse" on top that will be delicious.
5. Even though you already have bolognese sauce in your lasagne, make an elegant marinara sauce that you have either strained through fine mesh or food mill. When you plate your lasagne, put a pool of this beautiful bright red sauce on the plate to make your baked lasagne look more "alive". Also, a couple of big fresh basil leaves on top of your lasagne will look great too.
apparently my last post was not not appreciated by the powers above so...
green noodles as "necessary"? don't think so. hmmm, top with a bechamel is a unique regional variation maybe.
addition of yolk is a "liason"-its in the chef book.
veals' a great idea(also called baby beef here)-so's pork...but bacon? why don't you try pancetta. Wait special recipe.
I thought a garnish was supposed to be edible-let me check my chef book. Although slapping a couple of leaves of basil on top of a hot item will give you something you can eat in short while.
thanks bogie, these look like some great ideas. my issue that i hope i can tap into your knowledge base. I make lasagne for future grab and go dinners. i need to freeze in air-tight bags and use as needed for late-night single dinners. My question, do you think your changes freeze well or will they loose too much of their add-ons when re-heated.
dano, exactly what is your problem?
You seem to be more than willing to disrespect ideas that I have generously provided to someone interested in improving their cooking skills.
BTW I came up with some of these ideas during a successful 20+ year career in professional kitchens.
How about you?
Maybe you should rely on your own ideas rather than referring to the "chef book" as you call it.
BTW where are your original ideas, rather than just throwing out criticism?
"As a chef, I would never give you my signature lasagne recipe." This would be my prob ;)
northern, southern, american translations, they are all different and all great if done properly. i like em all ;).
The secret is there is no secret. A a chef myself i would gladly give ayone a recipe, as you know its up to the cook to make it or break it.
back to topic-a bolognese and bechamel lasagne is great. So is a lasagne with ricotta, and meat sauce.
I agree with OP, Marcella's Lasagna is outstanding. I also like the one that Guiliano Bugialli makes. I usually make a combination of the two recipes.Don't forget that pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
I find that home made fresh pasta or purchased from a pasta shop fresh pasta makes a superior finished product.
Basically, they are all wonderful. I would suggest trying a few recipes and tinkering with them until you find the one that suits you best.
Lasagna is one of those dishes that freezes beautifully.So all that work can provide many meals. Assemble it in a baking dish or an aluminum foil disposable pan.Wrap in saran wrap, then heavy duty aluminum foil, then store in a giant zip lock freezer bag. You can thaw in the fridge first or even bake it frozen...unwrapped , of course.
Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has a fantastic vegetarian recipe for Lasagne with Eggplant and Chard.