When I was thirteen, I had two of my best-friends over for a sleepover on my birthday. I told them my dad was going to make lasagne. Their collective response was “Yuck!” I informed them that this was NOT your school cafeteria’s lasagne. My dad had a secret recipe he received from his sister-in-law in Rome. He would make his own lasagne dough in our small kitchen and lay it out on the dining room table. I was in charge of cleaning up the mess and it made a mess with flour everywhere. My friends were amazed at the goodness of homemade lasagne. Years later, I tried to make it myself. Although I was able to translate the recipe from Italian to English, I did a lousy job with the metric conversion. My lasagne was mush! Next time I’m visiting I will try to get the recipe from my dad. Today with google, tools with both imperial and metric measurements and a European husband I just may be able to do it.
Because I have Barilla oven-ready lasagne and I’m trying to use up everything I have in my kitchen before we move, I decided to make lasagne. Because I’m not my dad, I looked up the recipes in Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
Ok, so I didn’t have most of the ingredients, but that never stopped me. I chose to make the Baked Green Lasagne with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style on page 215. I will call it Ready Lasagne with Meat Sauce, Obscure Style. I swapped out the ground beef for ground pork, vinegar for white wine and just omitted the celery. Since the lasagne is neither green nor freshly made at home I threw some fresh spinach into the sauce. The recipe calls for a Bechamel Sauce (p. 39)rather than ricotta. This is the tricky part – I’m not very good when it comes to cream sauces.
I remember the last time I made the homemde meat sauce, and decided to omit the milk in the meat sauce. Anyway, I had just enough milk on hand to make a bechamel. There is a variation for Ragu with pork, but it says to use 1 part park to 2 parts beef. I am using ALL part pork. I just crossed my fingers and hoped it worked. Yeah, being the neurotic that I am I also googled ‘making sauce with pork.’ I found this recipe for Ground Pork in Tomato Sauce, which looks really good. I’ll just leave it here for your pleasure and future reference.
Day 1: The Sauce
While I waited on the sauce – I sauted some chicken in a little of this, a little of that: stuff I needed to use up (mustard, lingonberry jam, cumin, onions, basil, tumeric, black pepper). And I made traxanas but it came out more like polenta than soup. Yes, I desecrated two cultures at once. I’m so American..
DAY 2: On to the Bechamel.
I was nervous. Mr. Obscure said he would do it when he came home from work. But, I wanted to try and get this blog out before the end of the day Friday…
…35 minutes stirring? Wow – but I did it. I am really getting better at this. Or today was just a good day.
Next comes the layering.
Then the baking.
And finally, the eating!
It tasted delicious, but I am going to have to agree with Hazan on this one: “The only pasta suitable for Lasagne is paper-thin dough freshly made at home.”
And dinner is done.
Recipes from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan
Baked Green Lasagne with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style p. 215-216
Bolognese Meat Sauce p.203
Bechamel Sauce p. 39