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Substituting bechamel for ricotta in lasagne

sharkfin Feb 7, 2011 05:28 AM

I am going to make a large lasagne, which calls for whopping 2 quarts of ricotta. (did a trial run this weekend of a half recipe,not a great texture)

I want to substitute a bechamel for the ricotta. Anyone have a favorite bechamel and proportion hints for subtituing bechamel for ricotta.. Im making a bolognese for the sauce . thanks

  1. monavano Feb 7, 2011 05:52 AM

    Bechamel- a stick of butter, a cup of flour and a quart of milk. To make the bechamel really decadent, you can add an egg yolk (tempered).

    2 Replies
    1. re: monavano
      hotoynoodle Feb 7, 2011 06:13 AM

      classic ratio for this and it can be cut or increased depending on how much you need. i generally add grated parm or romano to this.

      however, it's a really heavy sauce, especially with a bolognese involved. can't you just use less ricotta? what did you not like about the texture? did you use the good stuff or crappy supermarket stuff?

      1. re: hotoynoodle
        e
        ESNY Feb 7, 2011 06:42 AM

        I like lasanga better with a bechamel instead of ricotta. I think you should have equal parts bechamel and ragu and you should layer it the same way.

        Start with a little ragu in the bottom of the pan, then go noodles, bechamel, ragu and then grated parmesan cheese. Keep repeating till everything is used up, ending with a layer of bechamel and then add grated cheese and bake. Should take about 35-45 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

    2. r
      rezpeni Feb 7, 2011 06:49 AM

      Wouldn't really call it a sub since the traditional one is made with bechamel not ricotta. I would never add cheese or egg to the bechemel, but a little grate of nutmeg is nice. In terms of proportion you just want to spoon some over the pasta in each layer. Usually it's bottom layer bolognese, then pasta, then bechamel, bolognese, pasta, bechamel... etc repeating topping the final layer with bechemel and Parmesan. You can also add parmesean to each layer of bolognese. The thinner you can get your pasta with thinner layers of each ingredient the sexier and lighter the lasagna is. I like Marcella Hazan's Bechamel recipe, first result it comes up on google.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rezpeni
        sharkfin Feb 7, 2011 07:07 AM

        Thanks Everyone..

        My recipe had called for ricotta, and I did my trial with the crappy supermarket stuff, LOL.. I did not like the texture. I grew up with ricotta in my lasagne but now I will try to make the same recipe with bechamel. would like a creamier, less lumpy/curdy mouth feel..

        1. re: sharkfin
          Jay F Feb 7, 2011 07:17 AM

          Do the bechamel. It's better. I haven't made American Lasagne (mozzarella & ricotta) in 30+ years. Bechamel, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bolognese, and freshly-made pasta are the only way I do it now.

          If you don't want to roll your own pasta, this combination also works well in making baked ziti (actually, I use cavatappi).

      2. e
        Erika L Feb 7, 2011 08:29 AM

        I always use besciamella, much silkier than ricotta. I often sub part chicken or beef broth for a flavor boost. I'm with monavano, use about half the volume of ricotta--you only need a thin layer.

        1. t
          Tonality666 Feb 7, 2011 10:09 AM

          Bechamel is definitely the way to go! Add nutmeg and a little finely chopped shallot or red onion to the basic flour. butter, milk recipe.

          1. chefathome Feb 7, 2011 11:53 AM

            In my lasagna I use both bechamel and homemade ricotta (SO easy to make!). If you don't like the curd texture, throw it into your blender or food processor. Ricotta recipe:
            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            1 Reply
            1. re: chefathome
              sharkfin Feb 8, 2011 05:22 PM

              Great idea.. thank you.. and thank you all for your suggestions,...

            2. f
              foodworthy Feb 8, 2011 05:46 PM

              How about making your own ricotta? It couldn't be easier to make and the flavor is amazing. What I love is the lingering flavor of lemon. It just takes fresh and good for you.......know what I mean?

              I make this at least once a week!

              Ingredients

              2 quarts whole milk

              1 cup heavy cream

              1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (posibly more)

              salt to taste

              candy thermometer

              ..

              * Cover the bottom of a pot with the slightest bit of water (think a couple of tablespoons at most). This will prevent the milk from burning on the bottom of the pan.
              * Heat the milk over medium-low heat until it reaches 200 degrees, stirring occasionally to prevent a film from forming over the milk. This will take about 30 minutes.
              * Once the temperature reaches 200, remove the milk from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let sit for 15 minutes.
              * Drain the milk over a colander or cheesecloth, separating the curds from the whey, and add the salt. The longer the ricotta drains, the denser the finished cheese will be.

              +++ you can also use white vinegar in place of the lemon juice.
              +++Also, I've used variations in the ratio of milk to cream, all with equal success.

              http://food-worthy.com/?p=459

              3 Replies
              1. re: foodworthy
                sharkfin Feb 8, 2011 06:00 PM

                oh wow.. that does look like fun.. thanks. I am running out of "nerves" and time so I think I may make some ricotta in the next few weeks. I am cooking for over a dozen folks I have never cooked for before.. I need to get over my jitters since I LOVE to cook.. always holds me back... .this is lots of fun thanks foodworthy.

                1. re: sharkfin
                  chefathome Feb 8, 2011 06:13 PM

                  In addition to ricotta making in foodworthy and my posts I would also add as an aside that making your own creme fraiche is also fun and less expensive than buying it.
                  http://www.joyofbaking.com/CremeFraic... (for the future if you need!).

                  1. re: chefathome
                    sharkfin Feb 8, 2011 06:42 PM

                    great ...thank you.. I often use Creme fraiche instead of Crema while making enchiladas.. I will check it out.

              2. foodie and the chef Feb 9, 2011 12:23 AM

                I prefer bechamel myself, it's so easy to make... for great flavour heat up the milk with nutmeg, bay leaves & peppercorns and let it steep for awhile to infuse. Then you just strain milk and use as normal. Good luck! :)

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