Lasagna Bolognese

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I’ve been holding onto this recipe for a long time, waiting to make it. I am a big fan of lasagna and all Italian dishes in general and this seemed like the perfect dish for a cold Sunday night dinner. Plus, it held me over for a whole week worth of lunches, which is always good in my book! It’s a hearty meal — rich and delicious with a creamy béchamel sauce, a meat ragu and cheese upon cheese!

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This recipe is a bit involved – it has a couple of different components – but thankfully, the sauce and béchamel can all be made ahead of time and assembled once ready either that night or later on.

Step 1: Make your Bolognese Sauce

I’ve made Bolognese sauce before and its relatively easy. As the name implies, it is from Bologna and the Emilia-Romana region of Italy.

Once you get your soffritto going, your meat browned and have added your liquids, you just let that bad boy cook! You can let it go anywhere from an hour to three or four and the sauce will just get better with time. There’s something amazing about a pot of sauce simmering away for hours, developing its flavors and filling your small Brooklyn apartment with delicious aromas.

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For your Bolognese sauce, you’ll need:

– a soffritto – equal parts chopped onion, carrot and celery (the TJs pre-chopped mirepoix is pretty awesome)

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 lbs ground meat – a combination of beef, pork and veal work nicely

– 4 oz. pancetta

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 cup dry white wine

– 1 cup whole milk

– 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes

– 3 cups chicken broth

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add beef, pork, pancetta, and vegetables; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until moisture is almost completely evaporated and meat is well browned, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add beef, pork, pancetta, and vegetables; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until moisture is almost completely evaporated and meat is well browned, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

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Add wine to pot and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until moisture is almost completely evaporated, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes and 2 cups broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, adding water by ½-cupfuls if sauce looks dry, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, 2½–3 hours.

Step 2: Make your Béchamel Sauce

The béchamel sauce is the second key to Lasagna Bolognese. It’s one of the mother sauces of French cuisine (along with sauce veloute, sauce hollandaise, and sauce espagnole).

I grew up eating meat lasagna with layers of ricotta and mozzarella, so the inclusion of béchamel sauce intrigued me. Béchamel sauce is delicious by itself…. I even splurged and used whole milk…. A cream sauce with hints of nutmeg… Yum!

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For your Béchamel sauce, you’ll need:

5 tbsp unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk, warmed

pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Kosher salt

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. This is your roux. Whisk in warm milk, ½-cupful at a time. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until the consistency of cream, 8–10 minutes; add nutmeg and season with salt.

Remove from heat, transfer to a medium bowl, and press plastic wrap directly onto surface; let cool slightly.

Step 3: Assemble your lasagna

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To assemble your lasagna you will need:

– lasagna pasta sheets* I recommend the ready to use ones

– 2 cups Parmesan

*I just bought a pasta machine so next time I make this I should really make my own lasagna sheets!

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread ¼ cup béchamel in the prepared baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles, spread over about a ¾ cup Bolognese sauce, then ½ cup béchamel, and top with ¼ cup Parmesan.

Lasagna Bolognese_6Repeat process 7 more times, starting with noodles and ending with Parmesan, for a total of 8 layers… or so.

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Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake lasagna until bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 50–60 minutes. Let lasagna sit 45 minutes before serving.

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Lasagna Bolognese
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • Pasta Lasanga Sheets
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, warmed
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter, room temperature (for dish)
  • 2 cups finely grated Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Pulse onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add beef, pork, pancetta, and vegetables; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until moisture is almost completely evaporated and meat is well browned, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add wine to pot and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until moisture is almost completely evaporated, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes and 2 cups broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, adding water by ½-cupfuls if sauce looks dry, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, 2½–3 hours.
  4. Let sauce cool, then cover and chill at least 12 hours or up to 2 days. (Letting the sauce sit will give it a deeper, richer flavor.)
  5. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in warm milk, ½-cupful at a time. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until the consistency of cream, 8–10 minutes; add nutmeg and season with salt. Remove from heat, transfer to a medium bowl, and press plastic wrap directly onto surface; let cool slightly.
  6. Reheat the sauces. Combine Bolognese sauce and remaining 1 cup broth in a large saucepan over medium heat, and heat until sauce is warmed through.
  7. Meanwhile, if you made the béchamel ahead of time, heat in a medium saucepan over low heat just until warmed through (you don’t want to let it boil).
  8. Working in batches, cook fresh lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until just softened, about 10 seconds. Remove carefully with tongs and transfer to a large bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain noodles and stack on a baking sheet, with paper towels between each layer, making sure noodles don’t touch (they’ll stick together).
  9. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 13x9” baking dish with butter.
  10. Spread ¼ cup béchamel in the prepared baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles, spread over a scant ¾ cup Bolognese sauce, then ½ cup béchamel, and top with ¼ cup Parmesan. Repeat process 7 more times, starting with noodles and ending with Parmesan, for a total of 8 layers. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake lasagna until bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 50–60 minutes. Let lasagna sit 45 minutes before serving.
 

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