Friday, November 6, 2009

Lasagna Night

I woke up unassisted at 5:30 AM on Thursday. Since I was up so early (for a day off) I made a pot of coffee, some scrambled eggs and toast. Then I shaved and showered and made my 8:00 AM therapy appointment.

I'm not sure why (it may be because my last two therapy session were at 2:00 PM) but this seemed awful early to go and hurt myself. I got home about 9:15 AM and changed my clothes. I was damn sore and any thoughts of heavy-duty work today seemed stupid. I'm not sure what it is with that woman. It's not like us Germans ever invaded Ireland!

Anyway, I warmed up a cup of coffee and reclined on the couch with a book. I stayed there (other than one trip to the bathroom and another to get more coffee) until about 11:00 AM, when I started to feel guilty (damn this Protestant work ethic!)

So, I went out and cleaned the stovetop. Now, it's been a while, so I ran the drip pans under the hottest water I could get, added some baking soda and let them sit in the laundry tub (this is Jyl's recipe for cleaning off crud. I've never seen it work all that well, but I am willing to try anything). Meanwhile, I rubbed the rest clean with Soft-Scrub, rinsed it well and then I dried it off with a kitchen towel. I then moved into the bedroom to take a nap.

I woke up just before 3:00 PM. I messed around on the Internet for a while and then just after 4:00 PM, I got serious about making tonight's dinner. But, first, I had to wash those damn drip pans. So, I grabbed a Brillo pad and cleaned them up. Not sure if it was the baking soda soak or just my amazing arm strength, but I got them cleaned up in record time.

Ever since a friend told me his daughter was making lasagna last weekend, I have been yearning for it. So, tonight, I will be making that! I realized after looking at the ingredient list that this would NOT fit into a regular cake pan, so I got out my big lasagna pan, took out the little rack and got started. This is a Tyler Florence recipe, BTW: The ultimate lasagna!

I cooked two pounds of lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water until pliable and barely tender, about 10 minutes (that seems like WAY too much, BTW!) I stirred them with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. I drained them thoroughly and then coated them with olive oil to keep them moist and easy to work with.

Then, I coated my biggest skillet with olive oil, added two pounds of ground beef and one package of Hot Italian sausage, stripped out of their casings. I browned that until no longer pink, (about 10 minutes or so). Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper.

In my food processor, I combined one red onion, chopped, three carrots chopped, two stalks of celery, chopped, three cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced, two tablespoons of fresh basil, fresh Italian parsley (a quarter cup), two tablespoons of fresh chopped basil and one tablespoon of fresh chopped oregano. I processed this in the food processor until it was pureed. I added that to the pan with ground meat and stirred it to combine.

I also stirred in two tablespoons of all purpose flour. I added in two cups of red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon) and cooked until it had reduced by half. I stirred in two 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes that I squished by hand and added in three tablespoons of heavy cream and one teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Next, in a mixing bowl, I combined two containers of ricotta cheese (two quarts) and the 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese. I whisked up two eggs and stirred them in, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Then I assembled the lasagna: I coated the bottom of my deep 13 by 9-inch pan with olive oil. I arranged four noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the bottom. Then, I lined each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle (this forms a collar that holds in the corners). I dolloped 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta and spread it to the edges with a spatula. Then I spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the ricotta. I sprinkled 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. I toped that with a ladle full of sauce, spread evenly. I repeated with the next layer of noodles, ricotta, sauce, and cheeses. The last layer I topped with noodles, sauce, shredded mozzarella and more Parmesan. Then I tapped the pan to force out air bubbles and put it in the oven to bake for one hour.

After and hour, I removed it from the oven (see Photos). I let it rest for 30 minutes so the noodles would settle and cut easily. Now, the instructions say "Cut into 2-inch squares and serve," but by then I was really hungry, so I cut a 4-inch chunk out, plated it and went it to see what was on TV.

Hmmm... not much! So, how did the lasagna turn out? Well, it was very tasty, but a lot runnier than I would have liked. Either I cut it too soon or I didn't reduce the meat mixture enough (I sure thought I did!)

After I'd eaten, I turned off the TV and started reading my book. I read until I was sleepy and then shut the light off.


  1. I think I got everything except what the amount of Mozzarella cheese you were using. So?

  2. It was a pound of Mozzarella cheese, in all.