Lasagna al forno (baked lasagna)

Yield: 8 Servings

Measure Ingredient
1 pounds Durum wheat flour
1 teaspoon Salt
5 mediums Eggs
3 tablespoons Water, more or less
Polenta for sprinkling
300 grams Lasagna (bought dry)
1 large Onion
2 Garlic cloves; or more
4 tablespoons Olive oil
120 grams Bacon or prosciutto
1 Chicken liver; (optional)
2 mediums Carrots
1 medium Celery stalk
1 small Bunch oregan or parsley
1 pounds Lean ground beef
750 grams Ripe tomatoes; concassee OR
3 cans Italian plum tomatoes; 340g
1 tablespoon Tomato puree
300 millilitres Stock or white wine
250 grams Spinach; parcooked chopped
85 grams Butter
85 grams Flour
1 litre Milk; **
2 tablespoons Fresh cream cheese or cream
60 grams Grated pecorino or gruyere
60 grams Parmigiano-reggiana; grated
1 teaspoon French mustard
1 Beef stock cube (optional)
Butter flakes to top





NB* If using fresh pasta, or pre-cooked dry pasta, use quantity shown of milk etc. If using "no-cook" pasta, increase quantity of milk somewhat, and make the ragu sloppier too.

If not using "no-cook" pasta, make it and cook it, leave to drain, covered, on towels ready for assembly. Start cooking ragu. Chop the bacon or ham, and in a large skillet, start cooking it in the olive oil.

Meanwhile, peel the onion, garlic and carrot. Chop these finely with the cleaned celery and optional chicken liver. Wash and chop the herbs. (Dry oregano can be substituted). Add the chopped vegetables to the cooking bacon, cover and heat a few moments in high heat. When the juices are running, add the herbs, and ⅓ of the wine (stock can be substituted if wine is unacceptable). Bring to the boil and reduce over high heat. When all the liquid is evaporated, add the second third, and repeat with that and the final quantity.

Microwave note. If the ragu is started in a skillet, it can be transferred to a flat open dish and the wine evaporated at high heat in a microwave very successfully, with minimal attention. Return to skillet for addition of meat etc.

When all the wine has been added and evaporated, and the vegetables almost melted together, raise the heat and add the ground (minced) beef, breaking it up and stirring well as you add it. Keeping the heat high, brown the meat (and if necessary pour off excess fat). If using canned tomatoes, chop them roughly in the can before adding, and if using fresh tomatoes which are somewhat lacking in sweetness, use a little sugar to sweeten. Fresh tomatoes should be concassee (peeled & seeded). Add tomatoes, and tomato puree. Cook for about 40 minutes.

Prepare cheese and spinach sauces. Chop thawed or cooked fresh spinach finely and leave aside until needed. Melt butter and stir in the flour.

Cook over low heat for a minute or two, then off the heat, very gradually at first, stir in the milk. When all the milk has been added, bring to the boil over moderate heat, stirring carefully all the time to prevent burning. When boiling, crumble in optional stock cube, and season carefully, not forgetting several good grates of fresh nutmeg. Stir in cream cheese or cream. Remove from heat. Don't forget to use more milk if using "no-cook" pasta, which absorbs liquid to become tender. Grate the cheeses and mix them carefully together. Add half to the white sauce and divide the sauce in two equal parts. To one half, add mustard. To the other, add the spinach and stir well in.

Compose the lasagna. In a large rectangular oven proof dish, big enough to hold a quarter of the lasagna without much overlapping, ladle half the cheese sauce. Cover with ¼ of the pasta, add half the meat, then another layer of ⅓ of the remaining pasta. Add all the spinach, then another layer of ½ of the remaining pasta. Now add the remaining meat, the last layer of pasta and finish with the remaining cheese sauce. Smooth well, and sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese togather with a few flakes of butter. (If you've got everything right, you shouldn't have_anything_ left).

If using no-cook pasta, it is best to leave the composed dish an hour or so before baking, although you can bake right away. Cover with foil. Place the baking dish in a cold oven and set at 375F 180C. Bake covered for about 35 minutes or longer until bubbling, then remove foil and brown for a further 15 minutes or so. The timing is pretty variable, depending on how warm everything was when it went in the oven, and how thick the baking dish is etc. Rest 10 - 15 minutes in a warm place before serving (Saves burnt lips etc.).

Recipe IMH c/o Le MarYol BBS 2;325/3⅖ Posted to MM-Recipes Digest V4 #4 by "Rfm" <Robert-Miles@...> on Feb 01, 99

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