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Chiffonade: Your lasagna please!

Joni_'s picture

Please tell me how to get your lasagna recipe that they are talking about! Having a party soon and this would be wonderful!


Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #1 of 23)

i Lasagna is best made the day before it is intended to be served. This allows the moisture to distribute itself evenly and makes for a more solid product.

c Lasagna

c 2 Boxes Lasagna noodles (you may not use them all)
c 3 lb. Polly-O Ricotta Cheese
c 1 lb. Polly-O Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (reserve about 1/4 cup)
c (30 mini meatballs if desired)
c 1 batch of your favorite meat gravy

Boil lasagna noodles till pliable but still raw on the very inside.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta and shredded mozzarella and NOT MORE THAN ONE CUP of the gravy. (That is not a typo.) The cheese mixture should be just pink.

Position a high sided roasting pan VERTICALLY in front of you. Spray it with Pam. Ladle a small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Lay 6 of the noodles HORIZONTALLY starting from the middle of the pan...leaving the edges hanging out of the pan (this will make sense later). Put a layer of cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Scatter in about 5 mini meatball if using. Cover with a VERTICAL layer of noodles (probably about 4). This layer and all subsequent layers should not have any overhang. Repeat with cheese mixture, (meatballs)then lay noodles HORIZONTALLY across the pan. Trim noodles if necessary and piece together to complete this layer. Repeat with a cheese mixture layer (meatballs) and VERTICAL layer of noodles.

Repeat this procedure until you are either low on cheese or nearing the top of the pan. Over your last cheese layer, fold the overlapping noodles into the center of the pan. Put a vertical layer of noodles over that and cover SNUGLY with foil.

On the day of service, bake the lasagna, covered, at around 375 degrees, for about an hour or until well heated through. (Slide a knife in and test it to ascertain whether or not it is sufficiently hot.) After one hour, ladle some sauce over the top of it and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup mozz over the top, place in the oven for another 7 minutes or so until the cheese is melted and the sauce on top is hot. (My brother and I used to fight over the crusty pieces on top.)

i must
rest. Do NOT cut into it the minute it comes out of the oven. Allow 20 minutes to a half hour of resting time before portioning out.

Lasagna should yield a square, cake-like portion. The sauce will be PASSED SEPARATELY at the table and the diner may put on as much as he/she wishes. If too much liquid is added to the cheese mixture, your beautifully constructed lasagna will squish all over the plate. You want the portion to be square and tall and to sit majestically in the center of the plate. Needless to say, the first piece may come out not in the best of shape, but that goes to the host :)

We always make this with "gravy" - tomato sauce with sausage, meatballs, bracciola, (and for me, pig's feet). Salad and bread round out the meal nicely. If you are uncertain this will work, make it one weekend to impress no one but yourselves...and the lucky "guinea pigs" you might invite to share your latest "experiment".

Geeves's picture

(post #25650, reply #2 of 23)

Chiff, thx loads! Have enjoyed and learned greatly from all that you share. I am curious if you could share--as well--your thoughts for lasagna dish with bechamel. TIA -Geeves

Jean_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #3 of 23)

Chif, my brain must not be in gear yet this morning, but what you mean by horizontal and vertical does not compute. Do you mean lengthwise and crosswise in the pan??

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #4 of 23)

The roasting pan should be
i lengthwise
in front of you when you start, because your first layer would be
i crosswise.

The whole idea is to criss-cross the layers to create a firm product. If you do all the noodles one way, it does not turn out as stable.

Jean_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #5 of 23)

Aha! The light has dawned! Thank you.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #6 of 23)

i The Bechamel Issue...Hhhhmmmmm.
To be completely honest, the only people I have ever seen use bechamel in lasagna are non-Italians. As a matter of fact this Christmas when we went to Idaho to visit S.O.'s parents, his mom whipped out a lasagna she had made previously and frozen. It was made with bechamel and was extremely good.

It all goes back to something we talked about in an earlier thread. I try to be a graceful guest and when I am served something that may be prepared differently than I have had it in the past, I like to keep an open mind.

Sandra_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #7 of 23)

Chiff -- I use bechamel for lasagna all the time -- got the recipe from Ada Boni's Reg'l Italian Cuisine, so I've always assumed it was an authentic part of the repertoire. Lately I've been making it with with buttermilk (I've turned into a buttermilk fanatic since the responses to my question on the subject.) The results are, I think, wonderful.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #25650, reply #8 of 23)

I only use bechamel on seafood lasagna. I think it works well with the delicate flavors.

Geeves's picture

(post #25650, reply #9 of 23)

Coolness--re: bechamel: I am not concerned about authenticity-- I saw a demonstration on the tube a while back and it looked PDG, just never located a printed recipe, (have searched then quit-then searched--then quit) Just hoping for a T&T response. Again, thx!

Sandra_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #10 of 23)

Geeves: If you want it, I'll pass on Ada Boni's recipe (lasagna with bechamel)

Jody's picture

(post #25650, reply #11 of 23)

Hey Chiff,I remember you saying that your dad worked at Polly-O...What is the plant number for products made there? If I can buy ricotta cheaper under a different name....

Jean_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #12 of 23)

I don't know about Geeves, but I'd sure like to have that recipe, Sandra.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #13 of 23)

I'd love to see the recipe...variations are
i already
flying around in my head!

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #14 of 23)

On store brand packages, look for 36-8071. It may be a stand-alone number printed someplace on the package, be thorough as you look.

b TIP:
If you forget the Polly-O plant number, pick up a container of Polly-O cheese and refresh your memory right at the dairy case.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #15 of 23)

I, too, use bechamel in my lasagna recipe. I got the idea from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Marcella Hazan). I mix the bechamel with my Ragu sauce (or you could use a Bolognese). I also make mine with homemade
pasta and ricotta - it is melt in your mouth delicious, IMHO. I have tried freezing it but the flavor is not as good as on the day of preparation.

Sandra_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #16 of 23)

Okay, here it is. I make no promises for formatting, though.

Lasagna Bolognesi (from Ada Boni, Italian Regional Cooking)

12 lasagna noodles (approx.)
1 recipe Bolognese meat sauce (recipe follows)
6 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic
1-1/2 oz. Dried mushrooms
2 -3 sprigs parsely, finely chopped
1 - 1/4 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 recipe Bechamel sauce (recipe follows)

Cook lasagna noodles in salted boiling water, drain thoroughly.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter and gently fry garlic clove until golden brown. Discard garlic. Drain and dry mushrooms, and chop them roughly. Add to pan together with parsely, milk and a pinch of salt, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Grease a deep round baking dish about 9 inches in diameter with butter. Cover the bottom with layer of lasagna, spread thinly with Bechamel, and Bolognese meat sauce, sprinkle with tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Repeat until all layers are used up, substituting mushroom mixture for two or three layers of meat sauce. The top layer should be lasagna noodles sprinkled with Parmesan, and dotted with butter. Bake in moderate (350) oven for one hour, or until light golden crust has formed. Serve straight from oven.

Bolognese Meat Sauce

6 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 oz. Bacon, finely chopped
6 oz. Ground beef
6 oz. Ground pork
2 oz. Sausage meat
2 - 3 chicken livers (optional)
2/3 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
4 teaspoons tomato paste
about 1 1/4 cups stock
4 tablespoons light cream or milk

Heat half the butter and all the oil in a deep frying pan. Add onion, celery, carrot and bacon, and fry over a low heat until the vegetables soften and begin to change colour. Add the pork, beef, sausage meat, chicken livers (if using) and fry gently until they begin to brown. Moisten with wine, and continue to cook until it evaporates. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dilute tomato paste with a little stock, and stir into the meat sauce, cover and cook slowly, stirring from time to tim. Gradually add the rest of the stock.
After the sauce has been cooking for about 1 1/2 hours, sti in the cream and continue cooking until reduced. Finally add remaining butter and stir until melted and thoroughly mixed into the sauce.

Bechamel Sauce
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons a/p flour
about 1 teaspoon salt
6 cups hot milk

Melt the butter in a heavy pan. Stir in flour and salt to make a roux. Cook gently for a few minutes without letting it brown, then gradually whisk in hot milk. Continue cooking and stirring until sauce is thick and smooth, and raw taste of flour has completely disappeared..

(Note: when I make Bechamel, I always season with lots of freshly grated pepper and nutmeg. I also add about a cup of grated Parmesan, and have been known to add some cilantro or tarragon.)

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #17 of 23)

I'm guessing the bechamel (or any white sauce) addition to lasagna is a regional thing. My dad was born in Naples, my mom's side is from Abruzzi. The Italians I grew up with, my extended family including grandparents and aunts and my Italian neighbors never added it. Marcella Hazan is
i undeniably
an authority on Italian cooking, so I surmise that foods from Bologna are extremely rich by tradition.

I don't know what my virtual mother-in-law did differently than Eve's lasagna but hers was (legitimately) very good and had been frozen.

And believe me, I am being honest about the lasagna she served us...I already have the guy and don't have a reason to do any "buttering up." :)

Sandra_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #18 of 23)

Chiff, you might be right about Bolognese foods -- I don'thave the Marcella Hazan books (a small deficiency in my cookbook library that I will correct as soon as time, space and money allow) however, several of Ada Boni's recipes from the region call for bechamel and/or cream and lots of butter. BTW, I have frozen this lasagna with no discernible loss of quality.

zally_'s picture

(post #25650, reply #19 of 23)

Either somone told me, or I read, that as little as one mile in Italy can totally change the focus of cuisine -- from butter, cream and other dairy products @ mile 1 to olive oil, tomatoes, etc. @ mile 2. From the sounds of it though, the same seems to be true in the US with BBQ!

Big_Daddy's picture

(post #25650, reply #20 of 23)

Hello All,

This is a great thread. I am delighted about the layering techinique you've described, Chiff. I'll try that out soon!

I'm also a big fan of white lasagna. It may or may not be authentic but it sure makes my tastebuds feel good.

Since it is a fair departure from the ordinary I'd like to share my version.

Here's my recipe for Lasagna Diablo.


Geeves's picture

(post #25650, reply #21 of 23)

>Big Daddy: For some reason, I could not get your attachment. Can you copy and paste it here?

>Chiff: Earlier I should have said, I wasn't worried about "originality" rather than "authenticity" in regards to the bechamel, however I think the various regions with their various offerings is intriguing. And Chiff, your recipe is FAB, Thx!

>Just want to ditto: I saw a lasagna technique on tv with a bechamel, much like Chiff's, that is, it had gravy :), but the chef simply poured bechamel on top, as a final step(not mixing it in anywhere else) and sprinkled with parm-reg.

>There weren't any layers of cheese, just mainly parm-reg. throughout, if my memory is correct. I'll have to goof around with it cuz it has stuck in my mind for sooooooooo long and it looked goot!

Walt's picture

(post #25650, reply #22 of 23)

That's funny... sometimes I do it just in reverse..
finishing with some red tomato sauce.

Big_Daddy's picture

(post #25650, reply #23 of 23)

Geeves - I apologize. I seem to have lost track of your request to repost my recipe. I just remembered as I as I popped into this thread to read Mark Two's new post.

In any case here is the recipe for Lasagna Diablo.

Lasagna Diablo

One of my absolute favorites! This has been modified over the years but is based on a recipe from Jane Butel’s Hotter Than Hell cookbook. To reduce the fire use sweet sausage instead of hot and omit the crushed red pepper, but leave the cayenne and white pepper in the sauce.

2 lb hot Italian sausage

2 T Italian crushed hot red pepper

1 t anise seeds

2 T unsalted butter

3 C fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 can whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

1 pkg. lasagna noodles

1/3 C unsalted butter

1/3 C flour

1 qt light cream

½ t cayenne

½ t white pepper

¼ t ground nutmeg

1 T unsalted butter, room temperature

16 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced

½ C Parmesan cheese

salt to taste

Cook the lasagna noodles until just tender to bite.

Remove casings then grind the hot sausage and brown in skillet with 1-1/2 TB of the crushed red pepper (omit the crushed red pepper for a tamer version). Drain the sausage, remove from skillet and set aside.

Wipe out skillet and sauté the mushrooms and zucchini until liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Set tomato mixture aside.

Heat 1/3 cup butter in a skillet until light golden, then stir in flour until well blended. Using a whisk, stir in cream; whisk until sauce is slightly thickened. Season with salt, cayenne, white pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter a large (9”x14”) casserole dish. Layer ingredients in casserole as follows:

- noodles
- sausage
- mozzarella
- noodles
- cream sauce
- veggie mixture
- mozzarella
- noodles
- cream sauce

Repeat until all ingredients are used (although 2 layers - one meat and one veggie - should fill the pan), ensuring enough cream sauce for the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan and remaining crushed red pepper. Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes or until bubbly.

This dish is even better when cooled and then reheated.