Aren’t we lucky? Mmmmm. Lasagne for a Daring Bakers Challenge??
Um, thank you!!
I’ve made lasagne, I’ve even made pasta before but, as all of the Daring Bakers challenges, I try to follow the recipe given.
…And I did, until I got to the ragu. The veal and pork is out in this house, but still wanting to keep close-ish to the recipe, I chose lamb. While it’s not somthing that typically finds it’s way into my possession either, I still knew that with these challenges, I usually end up cooking it for others. Combined with a little rosemary, I thought it would be a sure hit.
The pasta, I tried to keep as close to the original as possible. My first drawback was the suggested counter space required. Since that is certainly lacking in my kitchen, I surrendered to my stand mixer. I’ve since read most of us Daring Bakers added a little more moisture, I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only one, as it took four eggs for my dough to come together.
Rested and ready, I divided and conquered, the dough that is. Remember that small counter? We’ll, I had to go old school with a rolling pin, so the smaller the dough the better. Either way, I was glad I did. I couldn’t imagine any more dough to work with at a time. Rolling out my divided pinches, kept me in charge and my dough manageable and thin. As it was, it made more than enough for two lasagnas and a batch of farfalle scraps with a spoon of the béchamel for lunch.
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna
Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)
• 2 jumbo eggs (I needed 4)
• 6 ounces (170g) Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
• 3 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
• 4 Tablespoons butter
• 4 Tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
• 2 2/3 cups milk
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely diced
• 1 carrot, peeled & finely diced
• 1 stalk celery, finely diced
• 500g ground lamb
• 3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
• 2/3 cup dry red wine
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
• 1 1/2 Cups chicken broth
• 2 cups Milk
To make the ragu, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan.
Add the onion, carrot and celery and fry, stirring, until slightly browned.
Add the ground lamb and continue to cook until mince is well browned. Transfer to a large saucepan.
Set the saucepan over the heat, add the wine and reduce by half.
Pouring 1/2 Cup at a time, add the stock, cooking slowly, until evaporated. Stir in the last 1/2 Cup of stock, along with the milk, reduce the heat to a low simmer (otherwise the milk could curdle). Cover and cook for about an hour, stirring regularly.
Next add the tomatoes and rosemary. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours.
To make the pasta, add 3 cups of the flour to your stand mixer. Add the eggs (start with the initial two) and spinach to a food processor to finely combine. Add the spinach mixture to the flour and with the dough attachment, mix on low to combine. You will probably need to stop once and a while to feel how the dough is coming together. If it’s dry, add the next egg, wet, some of the remaining flour. Once it has formed into a ball and is manageable, transfer it to a barely floured work surface to knead for a minute or two until the dough becomes smooth, satiny and very elastic. Cover it tightly or wrap it in plastic to let it relax for 30 minutes – 3 hrs (although I ended up not getting to mine until after about 12hrs and it was o.k.)
Divide the dough in quarters, and re-wrap the rest to prevent it from drying out. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangular shape. Continue rolling and slightly dusting the dough as you occasionally flip it over. Once ready, the dough will be quite thin and the rectangle about 10″x15″ (approx). Trim the edges to make an even rectangle and slice into about 4″ wide strips.
Repeat with remaining dough, and either use immediately or dry at room temperature and store in a sealed container or plastic bag for 1 day.
To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Sift in the flour and whisk until smooth, stirring without stopping for at least one minute. Whisk in the milk a little at a time. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper and a hint of nutmeg.
To assemble the lasagne, have all ingredients on hand. Including 1 Cup of shredded parmigano cheese (I also mixed it with mozzarella).
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Boil the pasta in batches until barely al dente. Remove and lightly oil if layering more of the cooked pasta on top before using.
In a glass 9×12 or other suitable lasagne pan, layer the ingredients repeating in this order – béchamel, pasta sheets, ragu, shredded cheese.
For the middle layer, I added thinly sliced crimini mushrooms over the ragu, then finished with a layer of pasta, béchamel and remaining cheese.
Cover the baking dish with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake for 40 minutes or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to lightly brown the cheese. When cooked, turn the oven off and let the lasagne rest inside for a further 10 minutes, then serve.
This is not a solid lasagne but one that slips a bit when cut and served.