Friday, March 11, 2011

Homemade Lasagna

Every once in a while it's nice to have a nice, warm,

comforting meal like lasagna and garlic bread.

And when it's homemade, it's even better.

Now, for a little back story:

recently I read a post on Rosie Hawthorne's blog,

where she described making

Lasagna Roll Ups with homemade pasta.

I had left this message on her post:

"That does indeed look delicious, Rosie.

I love making my own tomato sauce.

The jarred sauces just can't touch the stuff.

Guess I'll have to take the plunge

and try my hand at making pasta

even though I don't have a pasta machine."

Well, Rosie wasn't content to let that be.

Oh no. She put me in contact with a friend

of hers who had a pasta maker

that she wanted to sell

and after a bit of negotiation,

I had a pasta maker of my own.

I told you that Rosie is a bad influence,

but in a good way.

Now, on with the show.

I realized that with my kitchen's layout,

I would have to make the sauce the day before

as the pasta-making process would be in the way.

The ingredients for the bolognese sauce:

¼ cup onion, minced

1 large carrots,minced
2 ribs celery, minced

2 cloves garlic, grated

Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Kosher salt

3/4 pound ground chuck

1 pound ground pork

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

1-1/2 cups hearty red wine


2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Brown sugar, to taste (not shown)

Saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in olive oil
with a bit of kosher salt over medium-high heat
until the veggies are soft and begin to brown,
about 15 minutes.

Add the meat and brown for another 15 minutes,
making sure to break the meat up while it cooks.

Now is a good time to drain off the excess fat.

Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the red wine and allow to reduce for a few minutes.

Add enough water to cover meat by an inch,
bay leaves, thyme, salt

and since we aren't Italian,

brown sugar.

Allow to bring to a boil before reducing to simmer.

I let this simmer for a couple of hours

and then put it in the fridge for the next day.

Now, on to the pasta.

Rosie's recipe called for

8 ounces of flour

2 eggs

olive oil

water (not shown)

Make a well in the flour.

Add the eggs and work the flour into the eggs.

As Rosie had indicated,

my dough ended up being "shaggy",

that is, too dry,

so I added a third egg and more oil and some water.

A bit more flour and we had a workable dough.

Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Now you can see why I had to make the sauce

the day before.

There just isn't much work space in my kitchen.

Cut the dough in fourths.

Press thumb in each section and place a bit of

olive oil before kneading the balls.

Flatten into discs to prepare to run through the

pasta machine.

My apologies for not having pictures of the process,

but we had four hands that were busy with the

business of making pasta.

Suffice it to say that we started on Setting #1

and passed the dough through three times,

turning the ends each time.

Then move on the Setting #2

and repeat the process.

Continue through each of the settings

until you think you can go no further

with the dough.

We gave up at Setting #5.

Halfway through the pieces of dough,

we realized that we should cut the pieces

so that they would be easier to handle.

No cooking was going on here today.

And now I turned my attention to the remaining

ricotta that I had made over the weekend.

I had about 1-1/2 cups of ricotta left

and I added an egg,

4 ounces of softened cream cream cheese

and a pinch of kosher salt.

I stirred this together and set aside.

Now it is time to assemble.

First a layer of the sauce,

then a layer of the pasta.

Then dollops of the ricotta mixture

and grated mozzarella cheese.

More pasta, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, repeat.

Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

We had four layers of pasta.

Place toothpicks in the lasagna.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes.

Let rest for at least 10 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread.

Rosie, you were right once again.

Homemade pasta is wonderful.

And the best thing is that this will be even better

the next day.