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Thought I'd take a moment to share my Italian sister-in-law's recipe for lasagna (making it right now, and DAMN! does it smell good) for any that may wanna give it a try. Takes a while, but it's pretty low-effort. It's definitely worth the effort!
First, gotta start the sauce...the longer it cooks, the better the flavor....
Two big cans of tomatoe sauce, one medium tomatoe finely chopped, one quarter of a small white onion, 5 cloves of garlic (about a quarter cup), olive oil, basil, oregano and some red wine.
First, put a little olive oil in the bottom of a hot skillett, immediately add chopped onion and chopped garlic. Cook on high for only about 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion starts to wilt. Reduce to medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes (you can also add some green pepper or mushroom or hot pepper at this point....definitely adds to the complexity of the flavor). Next, add you arromatics (whatever herbs you want to...usually just basil and oregano for me). Stir together for a minute or two, transfer to a sauce pan and then add tomatoe sauce and simmer on low-medium heat (covered) for the rest of the day. Add about a half cup of wine after about an hour, then a quarter cup of wine about every two hours thereafter.
Meat.....This is the fun part. I've made it with lamb and fish, if you can believe that, and it was yummy!!!!
So, take whatever meat you want, my usual is any left-over steak that I have, some Italian sausage and just a little bit of bacon, but you can use whatever you want, and I guarantee it will be good. I usually try to end up with about two pounds of meat all together. Chop the meat up so it's no bigger than 1" cubes...the smaller the better. To the skillett that you used for the onion/garlic/etc, add your meat. Stir it up until it's brown, adding just a little water every few minutes, then (if you have a food processor dump all the meat in there and shred it all together) break the meat down, shred it, tear it, grind it, whatever you have to do to combine it. Put it back in the skillett with about a half cup of red wine, a clove of crushed garlic and a little bit of either fresh or jarred basil. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until it starts to reduce just a little, then throw in a covered container in the fridge until you are ready to assemble (if you are doing this on the fly, forget the fridge, just cook over low heat until the wine is pretty much evaporated).
When you are close to assembling, it's time for the cheese. The three most important cheeses in lasagna are mozarella, ricotta and parmesan, but I've found adding differnt cheeses really adds to the complexity of the dish. In a big bowl, dump a large (and I do mean large) container of ricotta, some parsley flakes and some garlic powder (a couple o' tablespoons of each) and mix with your hands! If you wanna add some crumbly goat cheese or feta, now would be a good time to do so. Cheese is always good in lasagna, so don't be afraid. I would avoid sharp yellow cheeses, though, cuz my experience there hasn't been all that great.
So, now your sauce has been cooking all day, your meat has been soaking in wine in the fridge, and your cheese filler is good to go...
Either throw the meat back on the skillett or strain it, whatever time allows. If you cook it again, do it on high so sear in the flavor and cook off all the liquid.
Time to assemble.
In a large baking dish, pour just enough olive oil to wet the bottom...spread it around with your fingers or a paper towel. Pour just a small ladel of your sauce on the bottom of the dish, spread around. Add a full layer of no-boil lasagna noodles (I use Barilla, works great and can be found in most grocery stores). Put a generous layer of your fabulous marinated meat (it should be full of flavor by now!! lol).
Then spread some of your cheese mixture over the meat and generously top with sauce. Throw in a few black olives if you like, or some hard-boiled eggs (not a bad addition). Sprinkle with parmesian cheese (powder works fine here). Then top with just a little shredded mozarella cheese (if you have a litte bit of your "other" cheese left over, sprinkle lightly here).
Then another layer of pasta, some meat, cheese mix, sauce, mozarella-little thicker this time-and then parmesan and some garlic powder. If you happen to have any bread crumbs, sprinkle them lightly over the top of all.
Now, cover with aluminum foil and bake in an oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Turn once in the oven about half way through.
Remove the foil and turn the heat up to 450 for another 10 to 15 minutes until that cheese is nice and brown.
Next, take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Should set up nicely for cutting and serving. Recommend serving with some fresh Italian bread, a small green salad and a wonderful glass of red wine....try either Valpolicella or Sangiovese...full, rich flavors complement the lasagna.
So, give it a try and let me know what you think.
Happy dining all!!!!
9/12/2005 10:58 pm
Sounds yummy, but very very complicated. I'll have to post my lasagna recipe one day.|