Delicious Lasagna a la Batali

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
While the bolognese sauce was simmering,  I started the lasagna noodles.  Typically I use '00' or AP flour.  I grabbed what I thought was the '00' flour, measured it out and proceeded to add the eggs and mix up the pasta.  The texture seemed a tad stickier than usual, but I just kept adding enough flour until I got the texture I was looking for.  I put it away to rest in the refrigerator and took a peek at my bolognese, which was slowly simmering quite nicely.

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?
Here is a link to the original recipe available on the Food Network's website http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/lasagne-bolognese-al-forno-recipe/index.html


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