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Emmie's Lasagna Chronicles: 3 types, 3 temps, same serving time...how to do the math?

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Hello everyone:

I posted recently, asking questions about making a four cheese lasagna in advance for a family party. Well, preparations are well under way, and I am attempting to puzzle out another issue.

I need to figure out the timing to place things in the oven so that they are all done at relatively the same time. By adding the extra lasagna I have confused myself here. (I do wish I had thought of this before I bought and grated all that Gruyère and Fontina.....ah well.)

I have 2 meat lasagnas: they are supposed to be baked at 375 degrees for 15 minutes covered, then 25 minutes uncovered, and allowed to cool for 10 minutes. (These lasagnas are currently frozen and will be thawed out overnight in the fridge; the recipe suggests then adding an extra 5 minutes to the baking time.)

I have one spinach lasagna; it is supposed to be baked at 425 degrees for 20 minutes covered, then run under the broiler for 4-6 minutes, and allowed to cool for 10 minutes.

I have one four cheese lasagna: it is supposed to bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes covered, then run under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, and allowed to cool for about 15 minutes.

I only have one oven, but I can fit three pans in there at a time, possibly even 4. I also have a warming drawer with three settings (temps range from 140 to about 220.)

Soooooooo.....how do I get them all done at relatively the same time, and therefore served hot? Steam doesn't have to be rising from everything in big puffy clouds, but I certainly want them to be hot enough to be tasty. And although I think I could manage to cook things longer on lower temps, I don't want to scorch anything by baking it at higher temps than instructed.

My thought at the moment: Put the 2 meat lasagnas in at 350 and extend the covered baking time to about 20 or 25 minutes; add the cheese to the oven when I take the foil off the first 2, and continue...when those are done, put the 2 meat in the warming drawer and hold the cheese in my microwave (which I am now wishing was also a convection oven!), turn up the oven to 425 and bake the spinach lasagna, then broil it and the cheese together.

Or, I could do as above, but run the cheese lasagna under the broiler and then hold it aside while I bake the spinach one. The spinach lasagna would not get as much of a cool down, but I think we can manage if one is a little oozy.

Sorry for all the details, I'm just a little lost trying to figure this out! Will my plan work, or is there a better way to configure all these pans? Any advice or ideas before Saturday would be terrific, thanks very much :-)

Emmie

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  1. Do they all have to be served at the same time? Or can you cook two and then do more? Do you know your next door neighbor well enough to use his/her oven also?

    1. I'd cook them all at 375, towards the end crank the oven up to 425. The lasagnas I've made aren't too twitchy, just watch after you take the foil off so the top doesn't get too crisp.

      1. It sounds like you've got it worked out pretty well. Don't forget that the more things you have in the oven will slow things down a bit. I discovered this the hard way with a beautiful rack of lamb that just wouldn't get done in a friend's small oven, when every square inch of rack space was taken up with dishes.

        Question: is the broiler separate from the oven?

        I'd cook everything at 375º or 400º on account of having extra dishes in the oven taking longer. Why not put in the two meat lasagnas, top shelf, and after the 20 mins take the cover off. Let the oven come back up to temp for 5 mins and add the last two. Five or ten minutes longer than the recipe dictates doesn't ruin lasagna, if it comes to that ... and if something seems to be getting too done, you can remove it, put it in the warming oven (for that matter it wld stay warm just on top the stove); broiling it later will warm it further. Lasagna also stays warm on its own for some time (all those layers of cheese).

        The whole temperature thing in recipes is so arbitrary. In restaurants most things are blasted at the same temp. If you read Jacques Pepin's autobio, as recently as the 50s he was lighting fires in the resto's stoves: were they able to fiddle around with the temp in a wood-fired stove? During the time of Escoffier, intricate pastries were cranked out and no one was able to adjust the temperature by 10 or 15 degrees. The recipe author has to specify something so she does. You just want it warm enough to accommodate the number of dishes. Buon apetito!

        1. Thanks for the feedback! This helps me feel a lot more comfortable about it all.

          c oliver, I do want the three types of lasagna to go out at once. However, I might not need to put the second meat one in at the same time as the others. We always wind up needing a piece or two out of that one, so I need to have it. But I could put that one in when the others are done, and it can finish cooking while we sit down to eat so it is done in time for second helpings. (Using the neighbor's oven is a good idea, but the ones we know we can ask are having company the same day, so I cannot ask if I can squeeze something in!)

          corneygirl and cinnamon girl, you make a good point about needing an extra boost in time and temperature due to so many things being in the oven at once. So 375 sounds like it will work well, and I can keep a closer eye on the four cheese one and then crank things up afterwards to finish the spinach.

          cinnamon girl, to answer your question: no, the broiler is not separate from the oven, it's integrated into it with the broiler element on the "ceiling" of the oven.

          I promise updates as things progress, thanks again everyone!