Sunday, October 23, 2011

Comfort Food Classics #11 - Sunday Lasagna with Meat Sauce

What could be better on a cool Fall day, then to walk into the house with a big pot of Sunday "gravy" simmering on the stove?  I'm easy pleased.  First let's start with the meat sauce;  this makes a large pot of sauce.  After the lasagne, I have three quarts of sauce to freeze.
  • 5 or 6 35-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil pesto (or about 10 fresh basil leaves, torn)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 lbs. sweet or hot Italian Sausage
Heat the oil in a heavy 5-quart pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until golden, about 8 minutes.  Dump in the garlic and cook, stirring until the garlic is lightly browned.  Add the ground beef and pork and season lightly with salt.  Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat changes color and the water it gives off is boiled away, about 10 minutes.  Continue cooking until meat is browned nicely.  Add the oregano and pour in the wine.  Bring to a boil and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated.  Pass the tomatoes through the blender and pour into the meat mixture.  Season with salt and pepper, add the basil and simmer, uncovered, stirring often until the sauce takes on a deep red color, 2 to 3 hours.

While meat sauce is simmering, brown sausage in a little olive oil.  Prick sausages to render the fat.  When sausages are nicely browned and caramelized, add to the sauce.
 Make your sauce early, the longer it cooks, the better.

For the lasagna you will need:
  • 2 lbs. whole-milk ricotta
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lb. lasagna noodles
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. mozzarella (or provolone cheese or a mixture of both) sliced thin
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach (optional)
I have been buying the "no-boil" lasagna noodle, which makes things much easier.  Today I have the traditional noodles - cook according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

While the noodles are cooking, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a medium size bowl and add the ricotta and stir until thoroughly blended.  Fill a zip-lock bag with ricotta mixture.  It's easier to spread onto the lasagna noodles.


To assemble the lasagne, ladle about 3/4 cup of the meat sauce over the bottom of a 15 x 10 baking dish.  Arrange noodles lengthwise and side by side to cover the bottom of the dish. Spread with ricotta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese.
Cover with about 1 cup of sauce.  Repeat layers. Add third layer of noodles and top with sliced provolone and baby spinach (if using).

Spread about 1 cup of the meat sauce over the cheese and sprinkle generously with grated cheese.  Add 3 or 4 of the sliced sausage on the next layer of noodles.

Top with remaining noodles.  Cover with sauce, sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and fresh mozzarella.
  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes.

Uncover the lasagna and continue baking until the top is crusty around the edges, about 20 minutes.  Let rest at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours before cutting and serving.

Serve with additional sauce and sausages.  Freeze remaining sauce.

4 comments:

  1. Wow! Now THIS is lasagna! I love the idea of piping out a row of ricotta filling. I have to try it. xo

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  2. Gosh that looks great, I would love it! Like the plastic bag idea for spreading the cheese too. I'm sure everyone enjoyed it:@)

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  3. That's a lot of sauce you've made! The lasagna looks divine.

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  4. This lasagna look absolutely amazing! gloria

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