Filed under: in the kitchen
How could I resist a lasagna recipe that takes four hours to make? Really. I could not. The fact that it had next to no cheese in it just intrigued me more. So I set aside Sunday afternoon and got to work (this post will forever after be known as, “the time I spent four hours making lasagna so you didn’t have to.”). Recipe is here; I made very few changes to it, so I’m going to do show-and-tell rather than repost it.
A half a stick of butter!! A half a stick! Of course the bolognese sauce is going to taste good. I’ve never made bolognese before and I don’t know exactly what it’s supposed to taste like, but even I know that much butter means everyone’s going to say, “Oh man, this is good stuff!”
I didn’t feel like adding an extra half hour to the recipe, so I did not thaw my Italian sausage. I subbed an extra four ounces of ground pork in instead.
In goes the tomatoes. Next time, I will use half again the amount of tomatoes and veggies to generate some extra sauce.
After the cup of milk. It never would have occurred to me to put milk in a tomato sauce, especially prior to cooking it for two hours. I would have feared the acidity of the tomatoes and the heat would curdle it. This part of the recipe fascinated me.
Making the Béchamel sauce…at which point I realized it was simply the first half of making mac and cheese, with a fancier name. This explains why the lasagna tasted a lot like (doh!) mac and cheese without the cheddar bite. And here, my friends, is the other half of the stick of butter. So altogether: A whole stick of butter!! A whole stick!
I was reminded the good thing about pre-cooking the noodles and not taking the no-boil shortcut is you get a lot fewer chewy, dry edges in the finished pan. This recipe most certainly results in very moist lasagna, almost so much that it tastes better the next day after it’s had some time to firm up. I also skipped the Parmesan cheese in the layering, because I was too tired to grate it at this point. I put about half a cup of grated mozz on the top, though, just for looks. With as much milk and butter as this recipe has in it, I don’t think my mouth missed the Parmesan at all.
Final verdict: Without a crew of hungry friends to eat up all the lasagna and praise you to high heaven about how fabulous it is, this is almost (almost) not worth the time and effort. If I put in this much work, I want recognition! So definitely save this one for a big family meal where all eyes will be on you. That said, the texture and flavor is very very good. Because the Béchamel sauce is easy and quick to make, I will definitely use that tactic in my next pan of lasagna, no matter who the recipient is (Béchamel, mushrooms, and spinach? All for me? Yes please!). But the three hour meat sauce? I’ll look for ways to speed that one up. I’m convinced I would be just as happy with the lasagna if I’d simmered the sauce an hour instead of two hours and a half. Sacrilege, I know. Also a good tip: The meat sauce is unnecessarily oily. It has half a stick of butter in it, a cup of whole milk, and the meat is not drained after it is browned. So if you’ve got the time, make it a day ahead, pop it in the fridge, and spoon off the fat after it’s chilled. Your arteries will thank you and your tongue won’t miss it.
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