Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Unlike most lasagne recipes, this version is made without ricotta cheese. I bake it in a rectangular baking pan that is 7 by 13 inches (18 by 33 cm), which is smaller than the usual lasagne pan, then cut it into 8 slices. Make the ragu the day before and all you will have to do is assemble and bake the lasagne.

2 (28 oz/796 ml) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
3 T (45 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil, divided 

1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press or minced 

1 ½ lbs (750 g) lean ground beef
1 lb (500 g) ground pork
6 oz (185 g) pancetta, finely diced (optional)
1 (6 oz/185 g) can tomato paste
½ cup (125 ml) red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T (15 ml) chopped fresh basil

8 oz (250 g) mozzarella cheese, grated
2 T (30 ml) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

1 lb (500 g) fresh or no-boil lasagne sheets

Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and hand-crush them, removing the hard center cores. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat.
Add the onion and sauté 10 minutes. 

Add the garlic and cook another minute. Spoon this mixture into a large pot or Dutch oven.
Add another tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and cook the beef until well browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Spoon into the pot or Dutch oven.
Add the last tablespoon of oil to the skillet and brown the pork and pancetta. Spoon into the pot or Dutch oven.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add the basil 15 minutes before sauce is done.

Besciamella (Bechamel)
6 T (90 ml) unsalted butter 6 T (90 ml) flour
4 cups (1 litre) whole milk
2 t (10 ml) kosher or sea salt 1⁄2 t (2 ml) grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foaming; add flour and cook, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Do not brown.

Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring quickly to a boil, while whisking constantly.

Add salt and nutmeg, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and simmer 2 minutes. 
Turn off heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) degrees.

Spread a thin layer of ragu (meat sauce) in bottom of baking pan.
Cover with a ladle of the besciamella sauce, one quarter of the mozzarella, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano cheese, and a layer of lasagne noodles.
Repeat 3 more times, finishing with a top layer of besciamella and a generous coating of grated cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking oil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Garnish with extra grated Parmigiano cheese and chopped parsley. 

Serve with a green salad.

Serves 8 

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