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Sep 13, 2011 05:39 AM

Ideas on Replicating this Lasagna?

My husband and I had dinner the other night at Dino's in DC. They have a lasagna there that's absolutely amazing. It had bacon in it! Or probably not bacon, but an italian version of bacon. And the sauce was creamy, not a solid tomato base. Though I think it had tomato in it. The pasta was fresh, of course. I got one bite, so those are all the details I can offer. But man was it good.
Any ideas on how to replicate it??

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  1. That is not a lot to go on . . . . . if the bacon was "smokey" tasting then maybe it was bacon, otherwise it was probably pancetta.

    For the creamy sauce - it was probably a very Roman style lasagna with one of 2 options for how it was put together.

    The Roman style lasagna has both a tomato sauce and a béchamel sauce. Sometimes these are alternately layered (option 1) or sometimes they are made separately and then mixed together (option 2).

    This makes for a very creamy "tomato" sauce. I love this style much better than a "traditional american" tomato sauce only!

    5 Replies
    1. re: thimes

      when you do the pasta with bechamel, do you do the bechamel instead of ricotta?

      1. re: overthinkit

        Yes - you do the bechamel instead of ricotta. There is no ricotta in this style lasagna.

        The Grana - is Grana Padano which is essentially Parmegiano Reggiano cheese.

        It makes for a VERY creamy tasting and rich but lighter tasting version of lasagna. I know this sounds like a contradiction but trust me on this one.

        If you didn't "see" bechamel" and "ragu" separately, some recipes call for mixing essentially equal parts bechamel/ragu together on each layer which would "mask" the bechamel. But I'm sure this is it from the menu description.

        1. re: overthinkit

          Yes. There is no ricotta, no mozzarella. That's New Jersey Lasagne.

          1. re: Jay F

            Haha - yes growing up in Jersey, Ricotta and mozzarella with a meat ragu is definitely a Jersey Lasagna or a Jersey Baked Zitti . . . . .oh the memories . . . . but I only make my lasagna this way (Lasagna Bolognese) now, it is so much better.

            1. re: thimes

              ricotta and mozz is mostly the way my mom made it as well (in CT)
              i do as well...

              altho this dinos version sounds good...

              time for some experimenting i think....

      2. from their menu....(if its the same dino's)

        Lasagnette ~ Not Your Nonna’s Lasagna! ~ non-traditional, free form ~ rich pork & veal ragu ~ fonduta ~ bacon ~ grana ~ house pasta

        sounds like it may be somewhat difficult to replicate..
        they probably make the ragu themselves...
        fonduta sounds the same...
        it says bacon but not what kind...

        and not sure...but they could be making the pasta as well..if not locally sourced...

        so it probably could be done...but will probably take some trying

        15 Replies
        1. re: srsone

          If that is what their menu says then I'm sure the style I'm referring to is correct. It actually is fairly traditional, just not here in the US. I've had many times from Rome to Naples.

          Make your favorite meat sauce (there are 100's of ways to do this but it should a long slow simmer style meat sauce).

          Make a bechamel (again any standard bechamel should work) and then add some grana/parm/italian fontina . . . . which makes it a fonduta in Italy or a mornay sauce in france - or just remember to sprinkle the cheese over the bechamel layer when you are assembling.

          Then if you are making home-made pasta just cut it into portion sized squares and cook them. If you want to use store bought I'd use traditional lasagna noodles, boil, and cut in 1/2 so they are portion size. (of course you can do a large pan of this as well, just probably not what they did in the restaurant)

          Then assemble - pasta layer - ragu layer - pasta layer - bechamel layer - etc - etc - etc - and bake in hot oven until top is brown and bubbly.

          I'd look for lasagna bolonese recipes if you need more direction, it is that style lasagna for sure - and they are EXCELLENT!

          1. re: thimes

            Thanks for all the help, thimes! And thanks to the rest of you too. I'll give this a shot and see what I can come up with...

            where would you put the bacon in all this layering? Add it to the bechamel? Or just add a layer?

            1. re: overthinkit

              My pleasure, this is one of my favorite dishes to make and eat, so I'm happy to chime in on this one . . . . .

              In my own personal humble opinion - I wouldn't add bacon since the meat sauce I make for this is very meaty and rich (beef/veal/pork/lamb bones/etc - so the bacon would be lost). But that said, If you noticed the bacon in the one you ate I would use pancetta, fry it up, and I would add it to the bechamel (and maybe add some of the pancetta grease as well which would really bump up the meatiness factor if you are doing a less meaty ragu).

              Good luck! Again if you want more feedback and/or recipe options you are looking for lasagna Bolognese.

              I may have to make it this weekend now . . . .

              1. re: thimes

                I would love a recipe if you've got one! I've only ever made jersey lasagna and I'm excited to try something new. :-)

                1. re: overthinkit

                  I don't have mine with me but am happy to share later when I'm home! I did a quick online search and mine is actually fairly similar to this one . . . .


                  You can add more cheese to the bechamel if you "want" to ( like an italian fontina) but I don't typically and I don't think that is traditional.

                  My meat sauce is a little different (and I'm embarrassed to admit this online to all you Chowhounders) . . . I changed to using a meat sauce from Vita Greco. She won a "best gravy" contest in the NJ Star Ledger years ago and so I gave it a try. I love it. (here is the embarrassing part) I did a quick online search to see if I could still find it, and it is posted on the Food Network (I know, gasp



                  Don't let that influence your desire to use this recipe (not a Food Network fan here), it is a great recipe. I must triple this recipe at least because the final volume is far less than what i end up with (I'll check my recipe when I get home to make sure they haven't changed anything - but it sounds right).

                  1. re: thimes

                    you're the best! Thanks.
                    I have no shame when it comes to Food Network... I just go by the ratings. If lots of people have given something 5 starts, it usually turns out to be pretty good.

                  2. re: overthinkit

                    Okay - after I just posted that I realized I do have the book that had the FIRST Lasagna Bolognese I ever had - and is also FABULOUS (though a little different from what you describe I think, though maybe just regarding the spinach noodles. And her meat sauce it a little less involved than the one I posted above). It is from Biba Caggiano (Biba's Taste of Italy). She credits this recipe for "launching her cooking career".

                    She makes homemade spinach lasagna noodles for this. (Honestly, I do actually do this sometimes).
                    2 cups AP flour
                    3 XL eggs
                    2 Tb finely chopped frozen spinach squeezed dry (can do fresh cooked too)

                    1 cup bechamel sauce (this will make a little more than you need)
                    1.5 cups milk
                    3 Tbs butter
                    3 Tbs flour
                    pinch salt

                    Bolognese ragu
                    3 Tbs olive oil
                    2 Tbs Butter
                    1/4 c each - minced yellow onions/celery/carrots
                    3 oz thickly sliced pancetta minced
                    3/4 lb ground beef
                    1/4 lb ground pork
                    1/2 cup Chianti wine
                    3 Tbs tomato paste diluted in 3 cups meat broth
                    1/2 cup whole milk

                    Brown veggies in oil/butter - add meats and brown - add wine and reduce - add paste/broth and simmer for 2 hours. Add milk at end.

                    Par cook pasta - butter lasagna pan - mix bechamel and meat sauce (this was option 2 I was describing above but less bechamel than meat sauce ratio) - layer pasta, then ragu mixture - sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano - repeat - bake 400 until golden.

                    1. re: thimes

                      Awesome! I'll try it this weekend!

                      1. re: thimes

                        chances are this would come close to what OP is looking for - a northern style lasagne with rich meat sauce and a light tomato element, lots of creamy besciamella and no ricotto or mozzarella. Although the addition of milk at the end is not typical - Marcella Hazans recipe adds it early in the process instead.

                        a bolognese ragu rather than the meat-flavored tomato sauce most italian americans think of as ragu or meat sauce,
                        likely the "fonduta" referred to is bechamel - like the above - with fontina cheese melted into it
                        "grana" in italy is a generic term for grated cheese, usually parmigiano reggiano or grana padano, as noted

                        1. re: thimes

                          Hi Thimes,
                          This turned out pretty good! Thanks.
                          Do you drain the fat when you make the Bolognese? I didn't, and my husband loved it, but it seemed kind of greasy to me...
                          Not identical to Dino's, but pretty darn close!

                          1. re: overthinkit

                            I do skim the fat but I don't fully drain the fat. I was always taught that you should have fat "pooling" on the top but not "covering" the entire top of a sauce.

                            Hmmmm - only pretty good, we should be able to do better than that. If you're up for trying it again I'd try Cooks Illustrated's bolognese sauce with pancetta and red wine.


                            It is a great sauce and might be closer than Vita's sauce. Much more traditional in this type of thing (though I love Vita's). .. . .

                            It is amazing how much of a difference that béchamel makes isn't it? I think it is game changing once you try it.

                            1. re: thimes

                              Oh, yeah, I'm never going back to Jersey lasagna again! I'm totally converted to bechamel. It's like a whole new world. :-)

                              I'm totally up for trying again; I might try just skimming the fat first, and then I'll try Cooks' version. They're usually pretty good.

                              Also, I was surprised how good the bolognese tasted with so little tomato in it... I've never just diluted tomato paste in beef broth before.

                              Thanks for all the help!

                              1. re: overthinkit

                                What else was off? The Cook's Illustrated version is a slightly different technique for making the bolognese which is very good also.

                                They cook the veggies, beef, pancetta just until starting to cook (not browned), then add the milk (more milk than Biba) and let that reduce until essentially "clear" (not white and milky) and then add the wine and reduce, etc, etc. The milk helps to tenderize the meat and keep it soft throughout the cooking. I cook it a lot as well. I'll post those ingredients as well for you if you're up for experimenting.

                                1. re: thimes

                                  Well, let's see... aside from being a little too greasy, I think the Dino version was creamier and the proportion of pancetta higher and pork/veal (I used veal) lower. Don't get me wrong, it was still really really good. I didn't simmer for a full two hours because it was already late when I started making dinner, so I need to try it with a full two hour simmer.
                                  I also didn't like the icky pink color so much (I mixed the bolognese with the white sauce) but that can be fixed.
                                  I have an online subscription to CI, so I can look those ingredients up. I'll let you know how it goes! (In a week or so... I need to space out my attempts a little)

                      2. re: thimes

                        anything can be made better with bacon.......


                2. Is this what you ate?

                  "Lasagnette ~ Not Your Nonna’s Lasagna! ~ non-traditional, free form ~ rich pork & veal ragu ~ fonduta ~ bacon ~ grana ~ house pasta p 20"


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Jay F

                    Yep, that's what it was.
                    I know, hard to replicate. I don't even know what fonduta and grana are..
                    And you're right, srsone, they do make their own pasta.

                    1. re: overthinkit

                      fonduta refers to the cheese sauce..

                      grana or grana pandano is a cheese similar to parmesan

                      thimes post above sounds right..

                      you can probably come pretty close...but not exact...since they are making their own ingredients

                      and maybe if you ask them really nicely they might tell you which bacon and cheeses they use...they might even tell you more about how they make it...

                      or not...since it is probably a proprietary recipe
                      but u might get lucky and they will share....

                  2. Great lasagna is stunning, isn't it? Making your own pasta takes a little time but it's easy - just doing that & using a bechamel will go miles toward a great meal - practically no matter what else you put in it. You don't need that much bechamel to make a huge difference.

                    1. Email Dean, the owner. He's shared recipes with me before. Just tell him how much you loved it and would like to be able to replicate it at home sometime.

                      The menu lists the following description for the lasagna: "Lasagnette ~ Not Your Nonna’s Lasagna! ~ non-traditional, free form ~ rich pork & veal ragu ~ fonduta ~ bacon ~ grana ~ house pasta"

                      If lasagnette are hard to find, you could probable use Mafalde: