Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Classic Lasagna

This recipe is from the magazine Fine Cooking. The best thing about it is that it makes A LOT under the theory that if you are making one lasagne it is very little trouble to go ahead and make three in just about the same amount of time. Then you can freeze two lasagnas for later. And they are right.

Best of all the sauce recipe is killer. If you want to make it for separate use, such as for spaghetti, just simmer it for an hour, stirring frequently, instead of the shorter time called for below. It's designed to leave it watery so the instant noodles have enough moisture when cooking the lasagna.

Step 1:
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
Brown meat, breaking into small pieces. Remove, chop small and reserve.

Step 2:
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves, peeled, crushed garlic
2 large onions, finely chopped
Add oil and garlic and heat over medium-high heat until garlic just begins to turn light brown, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard, leaving oil in pot. Add onions and cook until translucent, 5-6 minutes.

Step 3:
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
Return sausage to pot. Add wine and cook until reduced by at least half, about 10 minutes.

Step 4:
4 28-ounce cans (or three 35-ounce) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
Add crushed tomatoes and stir in spices and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook to blend and develop flavors, about 30 minutes. Sauce will be a little watery to work with lasagne noodles. If using just as sauce, slowly cook down longer to reduce more, about an hour.

Step 5:
3 large eggs
2 ounces grated Parmesan
32 ounces part-skim ricotta
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat eggs and add Parmesan. Beat in ricotta. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 6:
2-1/2 pounds sliced skim mozzarella
1 pound instant (no-boil) lasagne noodles
Heat oven to 400°. To make 3 lasagne of 4 layers each, lightly oil three 8x8” pans. In each pan make layers as follows (important note: the noodles must always have a complete covering of sauce or they will not soften):

1. Cover the bottom pan lightly with some of the sauce.
2. Lay down a layer of pasta.
3. Spread enough ricotta on pasta to cover (about ½ cup).
4. Spread enough sauce to cover completely (about ½ cup).
5. Pasta.
6. Sauce.
7. Mozzarella to cover.
8. Ricotta to cover.
9. Sauce.
10. Make two more layers in that order: pasta, sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, sauce.
11. Finish with: pasta, sauce, mozzarella, light layer of sauce.

Seal pans with tented foil and put on foil-lined baking sheets to catch drips. Bake until edges are bubbling and a knife inserted into the center comes out very hot, 40-50 minutes. Let sit 15 minutes before serving or cool completely on a rack before freezing. Defrost frozen lasagna overnight in the refrigerator and then bake at 400° for about 1 hour.

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