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May 12, 2014

Austin Expat Lasagna

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Story

It doesn’t get much better  than spending the day paddle boarding and then having a nice hearty Italian meal. I made this lasagna recipe for a group of my husband’s friends in Austin and they loved it. Since then it has become a new Christmas Eve tradition with our family. It’s got a light texture but it’s rich, creamy & decadent despite the absence of ricotta and mozzarella. Hint: If you cook the pasta super al dente, you can prepare the lasagna the night before.

Ingredients

Ragu

1 stick of butter (8 tbsp)
½ lb ground sirloin
½ lb ground veal
½ lb ground chicken
3 carrots (sm dice)
3 celery stalks (sm dice)
1 lg yellow onion (sm dice)
1/3 cup tomato paste (I prefer the Italian variety sold in tubes rather than a can)
1 ½ cups of white wine
2 cups water
plenty of salt  + pepper

Truffle Bechamel

1 stick of butter (8 tbsp)
flour (6 tbsp)
2 ½ cups of whole milk
1 black truffle shaved or 1 1/2 TBSP of truffle oil

Lasagna

2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan
2 packages of lasagna noodles
2 tbsp butter cubed

Recipe

Melt butter in a large enamel casserole or heavy bottom pan on medium high heat. Saute onion, carrot, celery until translucent, season with salt and pepper. Add sirloin, chicken and veal, brown and season with salt and pepper. Once the meat is browned add tomato paste and allow it to cook a few minutes. The paste will carmelize a bit turning it from bright red to burnt orange, that is when you use the white wine to deglaze the pan scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add in water and allow the ragu to cook for an hour. Taste to check seasoning. In another pan melt the other stick of butter, then wisk in flour. Allow the mixture to cook a few minutes to eliminate the floury taste being careful not to brown it. Wisk in milk and truffle and allow the mixture to thicken. The béchamel will be the consistency of cream gravy. Cook your lasagna noodles al dente (I recommend going one minute less than your package says. This is particularly important if you are doing this part ahead. I also prefer the lasagna noodles that are rectangles rather than strips with a frilly edge for the clean look.) Butter a large rectangular casserole dish and start assembling until your ingredients are gone.

It goes something like this: layer of noodles ½ cup béchamel, 1 ½ cups of ragu, a 1/2  cup of parmesan followed by a layer of noodles. Repeat this 3 times, the top layer may or may not have béchamel. Somehow I’ve ended up both with and without it. It really doesn’t matter. The important part is the ragu (pour all the leftover juice onto this layer) for moisture and then lastly the parmesan. Follow by dotting the top layer with salted butter. Cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

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