Lasagna Bolognese

You’ll Need:

For the Bolognese sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
4 ounces prosciutto (se Note No. 2 below)
4 ounces pancetta
2 celery stalked, trimmed and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and chopped
2 onions, peeled, trimmed and chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste, diluted in a little water
1/2 cup tomato puree
4 cups dry red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the white sauce (besciamella)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups light cream, heated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Unsalted butter for baking dish
2 to 3 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
About 1 pound cooked and drained lasagna noodles

Procedures : To make the Bolognese sauce, melt the butter with the olive oil in a large saut pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef, prosciutto, pancetta, celery, carrot and onion and saut, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste diluted with water, the tomato puree and the wine. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The sauce should be very thick and richly condensed after the long simmering. check from time to time if it needs more liquids and add wine or water as needed. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until it is well incorporated, about 3 minutes. Slowly and gradually stir in the hot cream and cook, stirring often, until quite thick and the flour has lost all of its raw taste, about 8 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and a mere pinch of nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To assemble the lasagna, spoon a thin layer of Bolognese sauce at the bottom of a 9 x 12 x 3-inch baking dish that has been lightly buttered with unsalted butter. Add a layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Top with Bolognese, then a layer of white sauce, then a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat this layering process, beginning with the noodles and ending with the cheese. Dot the top with bits of unsalted butter. Bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then cut into 8 or 12 portions.

Serves 8 to 12.

Note No. 1: Since my lasagna was to be cooked well ahead and kept warm in the oven over several hours, I made my last layering in the lasagna process a thin film of meat sauce. This kept the lasagna from drying out.

Note No. 2: I have to plug my favorite prosciutto here. San Daniele, from the town of the same name in Friuli Venezia-Giulia, is sweeter and earthier than regular prosciutto, and connoisseurs often prefer it to the celebrated Parma. San Daniele now is available in this country, and a good one is being sold at Wegmans in Manalapan. It’s what I used in this recipe

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