What? A lasagna with no mozzarella? No provolone? No ricotta cheese? Worry not, hungry goon! Put your trust in myself and the multitude of old italian ladies who have perfected this lasagna recipe over time!
This lasagna recipe has 4 stages.
- A basic meatless tomato sauce that is a key ingredient to the final meat sauce.
- A bolognese meat sauce.
- Bechamel sauce.
- Layering and cooking of the lasagna.
This recipe takes time, and you can expect to give an entire afternoon to preparing it. It will also destroy your kitchen, but is soooo worth it.
One note about the sauce, I ended up with about 25% more sauce than I needed, but it freezes well and works great with any pasta.
Step 1: Tomato Sauce
This step can actually be skipped if you want to use store bought tomato sauce. I don't recommend it though, as this part is incredibly easy and homemade tastes better anyway.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes, chopped and JUICE RESERVED
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. sugar (optional)
- 1 1/4 tbsp. dried basil
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
First step, heat up your oil in a medium sized pot and start cooking your onions, garlic, and red pepper on medium heat.
After about 10 minutes, the onions should be cooked. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, pepper, salt, and optionally sugar. Sugar should only be added if the tomatoes do not taste sweet enough to you. Stir this all up and cook it for 5 minutes.
Now, pour in the tomato juice you saved (you did save it right?) and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes, uncovered and stirring occasionally.
The next part is not neccesary, but highly recommended. Let your sauce get to room temperature, and process it in batches in a food processor, not quite to the point where it is totally liquid. This will make the sauce smoother.
You should end up with about 3 cups of sauce, which is what you want for the next step.
Step 2: Bolognese Sauce
- 3 cups tomato sauce from above
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 6 cloves, garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 lb. ground beef (lean)
- 1/2 lb. ground veal
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 2 ounces prosciutto, diced
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup beef stock, or beef broth
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
In the picture, I already chopped all the veggies. It's recommended to do it in a food processor to get it all chopped nice and small. Heat up the oil in a large pot, and put the chopped, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Cook this until tender, about 8 minutes.
Next, add the basil, parsley, sage, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes and mix it all in good.
Next, mix the three ground meats together a little bit and add it and the prosciutto to the pot. Mix all the meat in until it is brown, mixing and chopping it up constantly to ensure even cooking.
When the meat is brown, add in the red wine and simmer it until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Next, mix in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth, salt, and pepper. Bring it all to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 45 minutes, uncovering it for the last 15 minutes to thicken the sauce up a bit.
Most of the liquid in the last picture should reduce, leaving a nice thick meat sauce.
While the sauce is cooking, now is a good time to get some cardio in to help offset the huge number of calories you will soon be eating.
You should start the next step when there is about 15 minutes of simmer time left on the sauce. Also, preheat your oven to 350 degrees right now.
I chose to use Barilla "no boiling required" lasagna noodles for this because 1) they are good and 2) with 2 sauces cooking at the same time and 1 of them being fairly delicate, it's nice not having another pot to worry about. If you choose to use noodles that need boiling, cook them before starting the next sauce or you will pull your hair out. Also, if you are using noodles that need boiling, make sure you lay them down individually on a towl or something after they are cooked or they will stick to each other.
Step 3: Bechamel Sauce
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
This is the trickiest part of the process in that you have to work quickly to keep this sauce from getting fucked up. As such, you only get 2 pictures, a start and finish.
Since you need to make this sauce kind of rapidly, I like to get all the ingredients together ready to add as soon as they are needed.
Get a whisk ready. Melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan. Slowly sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisking to get rid of all the lumps that will form. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. You should end up with a golden colored paste.
Slowly whisk in the milk, again trying to keep lumps from forming while you mix. Once all the milk is added, increase the heat a bit and bring it to a boil. You need to keep mixing through the whole process to keep clumps from forming on the bottom of the pan. Once it is boiling, and the salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and keep mixing. Reduce to medium heat and keep whisking until it thickens, about 6 minutes. It should be the consistency of melted ice cream. This is what it should look like.
You want to occasionally stir this sauce even after its off the heat or it will develop a skin on top like pudding. It will also slowly thicken as time goes by, so if you arent ready to go to the next step once this sauce is ready, you will end up with Bechamel paste instead of Bechamel sauce. Don't ignore this sauce. Keep this in mind while layering the lasagna in the next step. It's why you want to time the preparation of this sauce to be ready as soon as you are ready to start layering.
If you timed this right, your oven should be close to preheated, and your meat sauce should be ready. Grab a pyrex or similar pan for the final step.
Step 4: Layering the Lasagna
- Bolognese Sauce from above
- Bechamel Sauce from above
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Lasagna noodles, either cooked or no-boil-required variety
I need to note again that the noodles I used are no-boiling-required. You must boil your noodles before layering if you dont use this type of noodle.
Lightly butter or grease the bottom and sides of your pan. Layer your lasagna in the following order. Start with a layer of meat sacue on the bottom of the pan. Then, keep alternating a layer of noodles, a layer of meat sauce, a layer of bechamel sauce, and a dusting of parmesan cheese. Keep in mind you should end up with about 3-4 layers total, so be judicious on the amounts of sauce you use in each layer. Go lighter on the bechamel than the meat sauce on each layer.
The first layer!
The last layer!
Now, cover it in foil and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes at which point you remove the foil and cook it for an additional 15 minutes. Then you pull it out and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
And finally, the final product!