Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hearty Meat Lasagna

My sister wanted to make lasagna again, earlier we had made one using a meat recipe from Jamie Oliver, called Amazing Slow Cooked Meat, it was quite good. We were looking for a more traditional recipe, and so I suggested this one from the excellent book, The New Best Recipe, which contains lots of recipes, and also lots of information as to why each recipe is 'the best recipe'. Quite good for beginning cooks and advanced alike. The lasagna was quite tasty, and easy to make. I have read that the best combination of ground meat for making meatloafs or burgers or meat sauces, is 50% ground beef, and 25% each of ground veal and pork, though you could use any ground meat in this dish, even ground chicken or turkey. We used whole wheat lasagna noodles, use them if you can get them.

Hearty Meat Lasagna
From The New Best Recipe
Serves 6 to 8
Tomato-Meat Sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
combination making up one pound of ground beef chuck, ground veal and/or ground pork (or 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
28 oz. can pureed tomatoes
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
Ricotta, Mozarella and Pasta Layers:
15 oz. whole milk or part-skim ricotta cheese (1-3/4 cups)
2-1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (1-1/4 cups)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1 lb. whole milk mozarella cheese, shredded (4 cups)

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Heat the oil, over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground meat, salt and pepper; cook, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon until the meat has lost its raw colour but has not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and only the fat remains, about 4 minutes. Add the pureed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until the flavours are blended, about 3 minutes; set the sauce aside.

Mix the ricotta, 1 cup of the Parmesan, the basil, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl with a fork until well combined and creamy; set aside.

Smear the entire bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish with 1/4 cup of the meat sauce (avoiding large chunks). Place 3 noodles in the baking dish to create the first layer. Drop 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture down the centre of each noodle and level it with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the layer evenly with 1 cup of the shredded mozarella. Spoon 1-1/2 cups of the meat sauce evenly over the cheese. Repeat the layer of noodles, ricotta, mozarella and sauce two more times. Place the remaining 3 noodles on top of the sauce, sprinkle with the remaining mozarella, then with the remaining Parmesan. Lightly oil one side of a large sheet of foil and cover the lasagna.

Bake 15 minutes, then remove the foil, taking care that the cheese does not pull off. Return the lasagna to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese is beginning to brown and the sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Cool the lasagna for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces and serving.


Perez said...

I never made lasagna, so is it hard to make? It looks so good, but I am not sure if I can handle it

Mike said...

It is a little complicated looking, with a long ingredient listing, but really it's not that hard. If you break it down into 'making the meat sauce' (which you can make ahead and store in the refrigerator), 'making the ricotta filling' and 'assembling the lasagna and baking it', it's not that difficult.