Friday, July 5, 2013

Lasagna with Meat sauce

2 pounds whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 pounds lasagna noodles
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large eggs
Pinch salt and pepper
2½ cups Parmigiano-Reggiano grated cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese, fresh sliced thin

2 35-ounce cans Tomatoes sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
1 pound ground beef  (you can do 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 Italian sausage
salt (Optional)
¾ cup red wine
⅓ cup tomato paste
1½ teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
4 cups hot water
1 tablespoon of sugar

Heat the olive oil in a  4 to 5-quart pot over medium heat, add the onions, cook, stirring occasionally, until golden in color, add  in the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is lightly golden as well, about 2 minutes. Add the ground beef, and season lightly with salt. As you cool stir it to break up the meat, until the meat changes color for about 12 minutes, Continue cooking until the meat is browned about 8 minutes. Now add oregano then pour in the wine.

Bring to a boil and cook, scraping the sides of the pot, pour in the tomatoes, then stir in the tomato paste until is dissolved into the sauce. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, the lower the heat to a slow simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until the sauce takes on a deep, brick type color.  Cook for 2 to 3 hours. Add the hot water, about ½ cup at a time, as need to maintain the level of liquid for the time the sauce cooks.
I always skim off any fat floating on top and adjust and season as needed. The sauce can be prepared  in advance and refrigerated for up to 6 days, if your freeze up to three months.

Bring 6 quarts of salted water and the olive oil to a boil in an 8-quart pot over medium heat. Stir about one third of the lasagna noodles into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 10-12 minutes.

While the noodles are cooking, beat the eggs with the salt and pepper, in a mixing bowl until foamy. Add the ricotta and stir until thoroughly blended. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Assemble the lasagna, ladle about 3/4 cup of the meat sauce over the bottom of a 15 x 10-inch baking dish.

Arrange noodles lengthwise and side by side so as to cover the bottom of the baking dish and overhang the short ends of the dish by about 2 inches.

 Also, the noodles will most likely overlap in the center of the dish. That is fine.) Spoon enough meat sauce, about 2 cups, to cover the noodles in an even layer. Sprinkle the sauce with 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Arrange a single layer of noodles crosswise over the cheese so they overhang the long sides of the baking dish by about 2 inches, again trimming the noodles and overlapping them as needed.

 Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles. Arrange a single layer of noodles lengthwise over the ricotta, trimming the noodles if needed. Arrange the sliced mozzarella in an even layer over the noodles.

 Spread 1 cup of the sauce over the cheese and sprinkle with 1 cup of grated cheese, over the sauce. Cover with a layer of noodles, arranged lengthwise. Spoon sauce, about 2 cups, to cover the noodles in an even layer and sprinkle the sauce with 1 cup grated cheese. Turn the noodles overhanging the sides and ends of the dish over the lasagna, leaving a rectangular uncovered space in the middle. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce over the top layer of noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Cover very loosely with aluminum foil and bake 45-50 minutes.  

Uncover the lasagna and continue baking until the top is crusty around the edges, about 25 minutes. Let rest at least 25 minutes before serving.   Serve with crusty Italian Bread and a Glass of red wine.

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