Lasagna al Forno, made with ground beef stew on a soffritto base. (Photo: Tony Jackman)
Whether it’s called Lasagne al Forno or Lasagne alla Bolognese, it’s an oven-baked dish made up of a very meaty ragù, pasta sheets and bechamel sauce, quickly followed by calls to find out more. please…
Ah, the lasagna! Don’t you see the fat Italian chef in his apron sniffing the flavors emitted by his forno (oven), inviting you to taste the Italian classic. But it’s a minefield. You might be harassed by frenzied Neapolitan chefs for confusing a ragù Napoletana with a ragù bolognese, which comes from Bologna at the other end of the country. And yes, Americans have made the lasagna their own (their spelling mistake), but the dish is nonetheless the real Italian deal in one regional variation or another.
Call the dish Bolognese lasagna means it is made with a Bologna-type beef stew, although knowing that lasagna, pasta, originates from Naples, one wonders if it would make more sense to do it with ragù Napoletana, the simmered meat sauce from Naples.
But nothing is simple in Italian cuisine. Bologna is located in Emilia Romagna to the north and is the region of origin of ragù alla bolognese, known to most of the world as (spaghetti) bolognaise (not bolognese), although traditionally it is made with tagliatelle, not spaghetti.
A traditional bolognese sauce is made mostly of beef, tomatoes, beef broth and red wine, on a soffritto base (the Italian version of a French mirepoix chopped carrots, celery and white onion). A soffritto used to be called a battuto in Italy. The lasagna originated in Naples in Campania, where the traditional ragù Napoletano is not made on a soffritto basis as in the north, and contains various meats and a large amount of tomato. Either way, this is a simmered beef stew, and either would be enough for this lasagna dish, although Neapolitan or (Bolognese) chefs might lynch you.
To complicate matters further, Lasagna (or ragù) Napoleon (also known as Carnival Lasagna, celebrated on Shrove Tuesday, alias Martedi grasso) contains not only the required simmered meat sauce, but small meatballs, slices of sausage and a good dose of cheese (ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella). So this dish is not Lasagna Napoletana.
The origins of many classic dishes are debated and debated, though wars are not fought over them. If Americans today claim “lasagna” as their own – insisting on a misspelling and even claiming that its plural is “lasagna” – the ancient Greeks may claim that they are the ones who are at it. ‘origin. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as Italian for our generations as the carbonara, the osso buco, and the changes of government every few weeks.
In the past, lasagna sheets contained spinach (so you can still buy it today), but tomato was not an ingredient in ancient recipes.
Officially, according to the Accademia Italiana di Cucina, al Forno lasagna or Bolognese describes a dish of puff pastry covered with ragù and béchamel. And that’s what it is.
First make a beef broth, or use a good quality purchased liquid beef broth (do not spoil your meat base with an overly salted beef broth cube). Roast inexpensive beef bones in a very hot oven for 40 minutes, then remove the fat. After removing the fat, add hot water and scrape the pan to catch the flavor of the sticky lumps at the bottom. Put this water and the bones in a pot with 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots, 2 or 3 chopped leeks and 1 chopped celery stalk, and add 3 liters of water. Boil quickly until reduced by half.
Make a bechamel sauce by bringing to a boil 1 liter of whole milk with 2 bay leaves (do not really boil it), then melt 4 tablespoons of butter and (off the heat) quickly add 4 tablespoons of flour to make a roux . In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the hot milk with the roux until the milk is well incorporated and you have a thick white sauce. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste, and grate a little nutmeg. Remove the bay leaves. Now grate 250 ml of Parmesan and mix it with the hot white sauce. Keep that aside.
Ingredients for lasagna
1 recipe of parmesan béchamel sauce (see above)
About 12 sheets of lasagna or enough to fill a large or two small oven dishes three or four times when laid side to side
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 kg of lean ground beef
2 cans of 400 g chopped Italian tomatoes
100 ml of tomato paste
1.5 liters / 6 cups beef broth (see recipe above)
1 glass / 200 ml of dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 cup / 250g Parmesan cheese, grate on top
Salt and pepper to taste
Make a soffritto, the Italian alternative to the French mirepoix: Peel and dice 2 carrots, 1 white onion, a stalk of celery and 2 chopped garlic cloves, and sweat them over low heat until tender. It is the basis of your ragù, the meat composing lasagna, even if it is the first three (onion, carrot and celery) which are the “holy trinity” of a soffritto.
To the soffritto, add the mince of beef and work it with a wooden spoon to avoid having pieces of hash. Cook slowly until the meat is golden brown, stirring occasionally.
Add the red wine and cook until reduced by half, then stir in the tomato paste. Now add the canned tomatoes, 2 bay leaves and two-thirds of the beef broth, and season to taste with S&P. Cook very slowly without a lid for an hour or more, then add the remaining 500 ml of beef broth. Cook gently, still uncovered, for about an hour.
Are you looking for a dense beef ragù; you don’t want it to be a watery mess, but you need enough liquid to cook in the pasta in the oven. The longer and slower the cooking, the more intensely your stew will be flavored. The more the liquid cooks and the flavors develop, the more gently you will need to stir it to prevent it from sticking.
Butter a baking dish and pour in a little ragù. Place the lasagna sheets edge to edge. Add a second layer of ragù then another layer of lasagna sheets, then a layer of béchamel, topped with another layer of lasagna sheets. Now add the last layer of ragù, another layer of lasagna and cover with béchamel.
Finally, pour the béchamel on top and grate the Parmesan on top. Bake in a preheated 190 ° C oven for about 40 minutes or more until the sauce is bubbling happily and the dish has turned into a golden delight on top. And you thought lasagna was bad old news from the ’70s? I think you could rethink that. DM / TGIFood
To inquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau), please email him at [email protected]
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This notice was published: 2021-06-10 10:36:29