|Mise en place for Bolognese|
I enjoy Mario Batali's cookbook because he makes some Italian dishes that I have never even heard of! I have learned so much since I got his cookbook for Christmas a while back - like how to make a wonderfully creamy risotto versus my previous claggy and unattractive attempts.
One of my favourite cuisines to cook is Italian. It contains recipes for many of the dishes that I love - rice, pasta, pizza, steak, seafood, chicken - what's not to love? I decided to make a lasagna because while I do have a predilection for it, I (my waistline) cannot afford to eat it too often and it felt like a Lasagna kind of day. I chose to make Mario's lasagna, with a few modifications (my husband can be a tad picky at times...just a fact dear, not a criticism).
Before starting this, I knew I was going to make some changes because I didn't really feel like getting dressed to leave the house. It was a lazy Saturday - which for me means staying in PJ's, planting myself on the couch to catch up on PVR'd television shows or playing some PS3/XBOX 360. I started by making the bolognese sauce. I had some ground beef in the refrigerator that I had thawed with something 'beefy' in mind. (The original recipe calls for veal, pork and ground pancetta) I used the last of our summer tomatoes (which had ripened perfectly in a cardboard box on the counter with an overripe banana) to make a basic tomato sauce to be added while constructing the lasagna.
|Tomatoes from the summer - pureed for tomato sauce|
Once a reasonable amount of time had passed (about 30 minutes), I took the pasta out of the refrigerator, put the pasta rollers on my Kitchenaid and proceeded to prep the pasta for rolling. I grabbed the flour to dust the pasta and this is when I realized that I had used the cake and pastry flour and not the '00' or the all-purpose. Disaster looming? Who knew. All I knew was that I was not going to start again. The bolognese was nearing completion and stomachs were grumbling. It was time to get cracking.
The pasta rolled out very well. I love when happy accidents/discoveries happen in my kitchen - I am going to use cake and pastry flour from now on! I rolled out several long pieces, which I cut into more manageable sheets. They were then blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, chilled and laid out to dry, in preparation for the ultimate assembly. At this time I should have been making a béchamel to add to the dish, but this is what I left out.
With the bolognese complete (3 hours of delicious simmering), I started the composition of the lasagna. From here it was pretty simple. Bolognese, tomato sauce, pasta, fresh Parmesan cheese, and so on. I topped it with some grated mozzarella and some more Parmesan and baked according to the recipe.
I must say that the results were truly amazing and that I cannot go back to making lasagna with store-bought lasagna noodles. It would be a crime against the bolognese - which spent so much time getting ready for the party. How disrespectful it would be for the noodles not to take the same care in getting ready?