Making Lasagna Bolognese, the typical lasagna of the Emilia-Romagna region, took some planning ahead on my part. While I do have a lasagna recipe that is quick enough for me to throw together on a weeknight, Lasagna Bolognese does not follow suit in the simple category. This recipe is one that takes hours because it involves making two sauces from scratch (a Bolognese sauce and a Bechamel sauce), one that takes hours to cook, as well as assembling and cooking the lasagna. Now, there are ways that you could cut corners, like using a jarred marinara sauce and just adding browned beef for the Bolognese sauce. If you have a free weekend day that you can devote to cooking this lasagna though, I promise you won't be disappointed. The use of the Bechamel sauce rather than the typical ricotta cheese filling that is used in lasagna in the southern regions of Italy really keeps this lasagna moist and creamy. I'll probably still resort to my weeknight lasagna most days, but it's great to have a show-stopper like this in my repertoire as well!
Adapted from Simply Recipes
-Makes 12 pieces-
For Bolognese Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, minced
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon pepper
1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
For Bechamel Sauce:
2 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
You will need enough lasagna noodles to make 4 layers in a 13" by 9 " pan. This is generally either 12 lasagna noodles if they are the long kind, or 16 lasagna sheets if they are the shorter rectangular kind.
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1. Make the Bolognese Sauce
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta, onion, celery, and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and pork. Cook over medium-high heat until the meat is browned. Add pepper.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with your hands as you add them (or, you can chop them on a cutting board before adding them. Just be careful not to lose too much of the juice!) Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Add the milk and salt. Lower the heat and let the sauce simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Stir every 20 minutes to 1/2 hour.
2. Make the Bechamel Sauce
- Heat the milk in a saucepan, but do not let it come to a boil.
- In a separate pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Let cook for 1 minute and then remove from the heat.
- Add 1/2 of the hot milk to the butter and flour mixture. Stir constantly to avoid getting lumps.
- Return milk, butter and flour mixture to low heat. Let cook until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Add the remaining milk, stirring constantly. Still stirring, bring the sauce to a boil. Stir until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and cover with plastic until ready to use.
3. Make the Lasagna
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the lasagna according to package instructions. Once cooked, lay the lasagna noodles on wax paper without touching so that they don't stick together.
- Spread some olive oil around a 13" by 9" pan. Put a layer of lasagna noodles down in the pan. Layer on one third of the bolognese sauce. Next, layer on one third of the bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the parmigiano reggiano. Repeat this process two more times, reserving a little bechamel sauce for the top. Top with a final layer of noodles. Put the remaining bechamel sauce on top of this layer. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmigiano reggiano. (I added some mozzarella as well, just because I had some that I wanted to use up.)
- Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes, removing the foil during the last few minutes to brown the top of the lasagna. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Ryan's rating of Lasagna Bolognese - 5. Maybe I won't be able to go back to my simple lasagna...