Monday, March 15, 2010

...making lasagna



every so often, I get the urge to make something complicated...
mostly from scratch and as flavorful & good as possible...
and since I had quite a lot of the ingredients on hand...
Saturday, it was lasagna...

one of the things I had to purchase...
besides the fresh veggies & cheese...
was the sausage...



I like to use fresh Italian sausage...
and the spicing of "New York Style" is my favorite...
I've used the "hot" for those who like spicy...
but prefer the "sweet, mild" for general taste...

I couldn't find any "chubs" of "sweet"...
so I got 2 pounds of links & removed the casings...
crumbling and browning them...
then removing to a reserve pot, pouring off the grease...
and cooking the finely minced onion, carrot, celery & garlic in the same pan...

after they were softened and had absorbed all the sausage remnants...
they were put into a stock pot...
where I had put a large can of Cento San Marzano tomatoes...
Cento crushed tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes...
& half a large yellow onion, roughly chopped & lightly saut├ęd in olive oil...

I added the drained, cooked sausage, 1 C Merlot, 1/2 C brandy...
dried oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper...
and a large bay leaf...



creating this, which I simmered, covered for about 30 minutes...
then removed the lid & let it reduce for another 30 minutes or so...
for the lasagna to "stand up" when served, it must be, "dry"...
so it is important that the sauce not be too soupy...



creating this...

while all this was cooking...

I put into another stock pot[it's the right size...]
2 qts of ricotta cheese, 3 handfuls of shredded Mozzarella cheese...
1 container of shredded Parmigiano, Reggiano & Asiago cheeses...
a mixture of half & half, 1 beaten egg, sherry...
& freshly grated nutmeg...

a bag & a box of drained & dried[wrung out in a dish towel] frozen spinach...
a large bunch of fresh flat leaf[Italian]parsley, chopped...
& a bunch of fresh basil, chopped...



after mixing well,[that's why I needed the large vessel]...
I had this cheesy, gooey, filling...



then I was ready to begin the assembly process...



the layer of meat sauce on the bottom would be more meat than sauce...
and would include...



slices of "fresh mozzarella" to help stabilize it...
hopefully creating a firm [dry] foundation...
for the next layer of the ricotta filling...
then a layer of meat with dabs of ricotta filling...
and finally, the top, a light covering of sauce with cheeses...
[shredded Mozz., Parm, Romano & Asiago...]



then into a 350˚ F oven for 1 hour for the large pan...
30 minutes for the loaf pans...



this kind of "constructed" lasagna...
has to be made in a deep pan to be all it should be...
I have a couple of 4 inch deep "lasagna" pans[enameled cast iron]...
and use loaf pans for the rest of the batch...
I have not been pleased with the results when using pans with shorter sides...
because then I have to leave out layers...
and that spoils the point of a multi-layered dish...



here you can see the layers plainly...



here they are all baked, cooling before storage or transport...
after overnight cooling, the big pan can be divided up for freezing...
or into family-sized portions...
and the loaf size pans are perfect for me...
as well as sharing with others who live alone...



this was my reward for an afternoon of cooking...
yumm!...

2 comments:

Mousie and Christy's Mommy said...

Well, Catsinger, this was quite interesting! It seems a lot of work for something that can be bought in the frozen food section of the local grocery...but I am sure that it tastes MUCH better! I guess it is kind of like me spending 7-9 months making a quilt that can be purchased at J.C. Penny for $29.95! I assure you, mine is MUCH better! Bon Appetit!

catsinger said...

...were you not at the church potluck several years ago where our then Rector, famous for NEVER eating anything green, proclaimed this,"the best lasagna, ever"...? [if you were at any in the last few years, you've had it...]
I have been known to nuke a Stoffers on occasion, but like the JCP quilt only kept me warm, it only filled my stomach... unlike your handmade quilt & my lasagna also warm & fill the soul... ;D
glad you're back from SoCal...