More than three years ago, I joined an online weight-loss group on xanga.com. I had lost a lot of weight, gained it back, lost it again, and then gained it back. Through all of those ups and downs, I also had gained a lot of online buddies. Once I began to stray away from this site, I lost all of those friends…except for one — Laurian.
Laurian and I have met only once, but she knows me more than most of my friends who live close-by. We have much in common. She is an intelligent, graduate student studying Anthropology in Philadelphia, and I’m glad that we still stay in touch.
About a year ago we briefly had discussed the makings of true, authentic lasagne, and I told her that Italian lasagne usually have besciamella (beh-shyah-MEL-lah) or béchamel, instead of ricotta (ree-COAT-tah) or cottage cheese.
Well, last week, we were chatting with each other on MSN Messenger, and she told me that she was looking at my food blog as usual. I didn’t know that she visits my blog regularly, but I was happy to know she does. She asked me why hadn’t I made that lasagne for her. I told her that I didn’t know that I’d promised to make lasagne for her, and she said, “Well, you didn’t.” She just wanted me to do it haha.
Questo è per la mia migliore amica. Ti voglio bene! I love you!
I am thankful for knowing so many languages, such as Italian, because I was able to find a close-enough to authentic recipe given in the lovely Italian language. I found this video and recipe on Italianfoodnet. It is a fabulous website that contains a bunch of videos of popular, Italian recipes. There are English subtitles on most (but not all) of the recipes, and there are text versions of all the recipes in English. The video for this dish was in Italian, and I couldn’t believe that I had understood about 90% of it! I was shocked!
Surprisingly, I’m not crazy about lasagne. I’ve tried lasagne at various restaurants, and I’m never impressed by the taste. However, this particular recipe has changed my perspective completely. The besciamella really boosted up the flavor. The lasagne had a lot of oil on and in it, so I will reduce that the next time I make this, and there WILL be a next time. I also didn’t add extra butter on top of the dish as the cook does because it just wasn’t necessary. Nevertheless, everything was perfect. Please make this dish soon. You won’t regret it.
1 lb 3 oz (600 gr) (21 oz) Ground Beef
2 Litres Tomato Sauce (I used about 52 ounces of Pomì crushed tomatoes; it was more than enough)
1 Tomato Paste Tube (4.5 oz)
1 Big Carrot (½ cup) chopped
1 Celery Rib (½ cup) chopped
1 White Onion (½ cup) chopped
3 Glasses of Red Wine (I used about 8 oz of Fre Red Wine, a non-alcoholic wine!! Yeaa!!)
1/4-1/2 cups heavy cream (optional)
1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Sage
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper
Heat a large saucepan. Pour in olive oil. Add celery, carrot, onion, and let them brown over medium heat. Then add sage, rosemary, and cook the mixture for 1-2 minutes.
Add the ground beef, divide it well, and cook until the liquid has evaporated (about 5-10 minutes), then season with salt and black pepper.
After 10 minutes of cooking pour in the red wine, and let it evaporate. Add tomato paste, stir well, and add tomato sauce, cover and let it simmer for 1 ½ hour on a low heat. Make sure you season this sauce well before assembling the lasagne.
4.2 cups (1 Litre) (33.8 fl oz) Whole Milk
about 1 stick (100 gr) (3.52 oz) Butter
about 1 cup (100 gr) (3.52 oz) 00 Flour (I used ’00’ flour, but you could use AP flour)
A Pinch of Salt (I used more than a pinch of salt. Season to taste)
Fresh, grated nutmeg
Pour the milk into a large saucepan, add salt, some grated nutmeg, and place the pan on medium heat.
Put the butter into a medium saucepan, and place the pan on medium heat. As soon as the butter melts, add the flour, and let the mixture cook for about 3-4 minutes over medium-low heat whisking constantly. When the mixture is ready, remove the pan from heat and let it rest.
As soon as the milk reaches the boiling point, pour it into the mixture little by little, whisking briskly to avoid lumps from forming. When the milk is incorporated, return the pan over a medium-low heat, and let it cook for 15 minutes whisking continuously.
When your béchamel is ready, remove from heat. If not using the mixture immediately, transfer it to a large bowl. We suggest you let the béchamel cool to room temperature, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the béchamel, to prevent a skin from forming while the sauce cools.
20-25 fresh Lasagna pasta sheets (Soak your lasagna sheets in a pot of hot water if they are hard)
about 8 cups (1½ Litres) besciamella (use the sauce you made; you will have more than enough)
8 cups (2 Litres) Ragù (sauce from above; you’ll have more than enough)
2-3 cups (250 gr.) (8.81 oz.) Grated parmesan
80 gr (2.82 oz.) Butter (I only used the butter to butter the pan. I didn’t add more on top; it was oily enough from the olive oil)
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter the baking tin, spread ragù along the bottom (I forgot to take a photo of that!) , lay lasagna sheets over ragù and press along the rims of the baking tin.
Spread ragù, add besciamella, sprinkle with grated parmesan and extra virgin olive oil.
Top with ragù, which must cover all Lasagne. Add a little more besciamella. Sprinkle the top with grated parmesan. Add some knobs of butter (optional) and a little extra virgin olive oil.
Preheat oven to 250 C (482 F). Once you place the dish in the oven, lower the temperature to 180 C (356 F), and bake lasagne for about 20 minutes. Remove lasagne from oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.