Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

Classic Lasagna Bolognese

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  • Level: Easy
  • Yield: Serves 12-18 servings
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2 pounds fresh pasta sheets, cut into 4 x17 inch strips

12 quarts water in a large pot suitable in which to cook the pasta

2 tablespoons salt

1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional cheese for Bichamel sauce

1 Bichamel sauce, recipe follows

1 Bolognese sauce, recipe follows

Southern Style:

1 pound Mozzarella cheese thinly sliced

1 pound Ricotta cheese 

4 egg yolks 

2 tablespoons ground black pepper 

2 pounds pasta 

1 recipe meat sauce 

1 cup Parmigiano cheese

Vegetarian style:

2 pounds pasta sheets

1 pound Mozzarella cheese

1 pound Ricotta

4 egg yolks

1 pound fresh Crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/2 pound zucchini, thinly sliced

2 pounds fresh spinach leaves, well washed

2 cups tomato sauce made in a similar slow cooked fashion but meatless and with the addition of basil leaves

1 cup Parmigiano cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Bichamel sauce:

3 cups hot milk

6 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons flour

1/2 each teaspoon salt and ground white pepper

Bolognese sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

1 pound ground beef

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups canned plum tomatoes, seeds removed and roughly chopped

1 cup water


Special equipment:
Large bowl of water with ice cubes to cool the pasta
  1. For the pasta: Bring the 12 quarts water to the boil. Before cooking the pasta have all the equipment and ice water ready for the cooking and chilling process. Add the salt to the pasta pot, re-boil and begin to blanch or par-cook the pasta in batches. Cook each batch for 2 to 3 minutes in rapidly boiling water before using a large wire strainer to scoop out the cooked pasta, submerge in the ice water and then resume cooking another batch of pasta using the same method. Small bathes ensure uniform cooking and cooling. When the pasta sheets have cooled in 1 or 2 minutes, remove them from the water and place them on paper towels to dry. When all the pasta has been cooked in this manner the lasagna may be assembled.
  2. Assemble and bake the lasagna: 
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  4. Spread some Bichamel on the bottom of the baking pan. Top with a layer of pasta sheets. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce on top of the pasta, top with a layer of Bichamel, evenly sprinkle on some grated Parmigiano cheese and top with another single layer of pasta. Do this layering process until all of the ingredients have been used and making sure that the final and top layer is Bichamel sauce with Parmigiano sprinkled on. When the baking dish is completely filled the lasagna is ready to be baked. Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the top has begun to brown and the edges are crispy. 
  5. For the southern style: Combine the yolks and the ricotta cheese to make a mixture that will be used in place of the bichamel sauce. When assembling, add some sliced mozzarella to the layering technique and be sure that the final layer is one of mozzarella cheese. Bake using the same directions.
  6. For the vegetarian style: The layering technique is the same here as in the previous recipe. The vegetables must be cooked first. Sauti the sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cool. Saute the zucchini with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season and cool. Cook the spinach leaves in the same fashion but cool by placing on paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Assemble in the same fashion alternating pasta, ricotta, mushrooms, spinach, tomato sauce, Parmigiano, zucchini, mozzarella and pasta. Finally ending with a top layer of mozzarella. Bake similarly at 375 degrees until golden and crisp. Cool all three lasagnas for 20 minutes before serving.

Bichamel sauce:

  1. Gently heat the milk over a low flame but do not boil. While the milk is heating put the butter into a sauce pot and slowly melt over low heat. When the butter is melted whisk in the flour gradually to avoid lumps and gently cook this roux. Using a wire whisk, very slowly begin to pour the hot milk into the roux, a little at a time. Avoid lumps by going very slowly. When all the milk has been added, add the seasoning, turn the heat very low and cook for 20 minutes. When finished allow to cool somewhat before using in the lasagna recipe. 

Bolognese sauce:

  1. Heat the oil and butter together, over low heat, in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook till wilted. Add the meat and, breaking up the meat with a fork or spoon, cook gently and stirring frequently. Season the meat with salt and pepper, add the wine and allow the wine to cook completely down to almost dry before adding the tomatoes and water. Adjust the heat to a slow simmer and, being careful not to cook too rapidly, cook the meat and tomato sauce for between 3 to 4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid scorching the bottom of the pot and keep an eye on this simmering pot. When the sauce has cooked for several hours and the excess water has cooked off, remove from the heat and allow to cool before assembling the lasagna.