Monday, March 02, 2009

Belt Testing and Bonus Lasagna Recipe!

I passed my test so now I’m an orange stripe belt. Woo hoo!

No trophy this time (the boys were disappointed) but I felt good about my test. Besides, what would I do with a trophy? I need to save room for my gold medals from my upcoming tournament, right? HA!

To celebrate, I made lasagna for dinner last night. I don’t actually think it started out as a celebratory lasagna but it’s what Tom suggested and it sounded good and it’ll feed us for the next 2 days so, why not? And, was it good. So, so good. I kept making delicious noises as I plowed through it. I just had it for lunch and I made delicious noises then too which must seem strange to the people who walk by my open door.


Now that I’ve prattled on about the mmm soo good lasagna . . . here’s the recipe:

1 lb ground beef
3 mild-medium Italian sausage links
½ cup diced pancetta
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
2 16 oz. jars your favorite tomato sauce (I like Newman’s Own)
2 pinches of dried oregano - divided
2 pinches of dried basil - divided
12 lasagna noodles cooked according to package directions
1 15 oz. package ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella – divided
2 eggs
2 cups béchamel (usually I make my own but this time I substituted with Aunt Penny’s White sauce doctored with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the beef in a cast iron pot or dutch oven, remove and let drain in a bowl lined with a paper towel. Remove the casing from the sausage links, brown in the pot, remove and add to browned beef. Cook the pancetta in the pot until browned and crispy, add the onion and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so. Pour in the wine and scrape up the browned bits. Add the browned beef and sausage back to the pot and pour in the 2 jars of tomato sauce. Stir together, add a pinch of oregano and a pinch of basil. Let simmer on low.

In a separate large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, and 2 eggs. Add a pinch of oregano and a pinch of basil. Mix thoroughly.

In a 9x13 greased dish, spread a cup of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of lasagna noodles on top, slightly overlapping the layers. Spread half of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles. Add a layer of meat sauce on top of the ricotta mixture. Drizzle some béchamel sauce on top of the meat. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the layering: first the ricotta mixture, then the meat sauce, then the drizzle of béchamel. Add a final layer of noodles, top with the remainder béchamel sauce. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of shredded mozzarella on top. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes after before serving. Serves 6-8 people.

Homemade Bechamel Sauce
¼ C butter
¼ C flour
2 cups milk (warmed in the microwave)
Grated nutmeg to taste
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and cook until it has a nutty aroma. Whisk in the milk and stir until it becomes thick (place a spoon in the sauce, remove it and run your fingernail down the back of the spoon – if it leaves a neat line, the sauce is at the right thickness). Add the freshly grated nutmeg (about ¼ teaspoon), pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Makes about 2 cups.

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