Last week I searched for our meat lasagna post on Rampant Cuisine and realized that it…didn’t exist?!? We’ve done a veggie lasagna but had never tackled a straight up deceptively simple lasagna bolognese. After some research I realized that lasagna bolognese is kind of the Mt. Everest of Italian cooking. The dish requires a slow simmered bolognese, homemade noodles (if possible), a creamy Bechamel sauce and (finally) an hour of baking time. Basically, be prepared to start this dish in the morning and work on bits and pieces of it throughout the day so you aren’t a frazzled, tired grump by the time you finally get to taste the 8 layers of deliciousness.
I also recommend not attempting this dish alone. The process didn’t seem like a big deal to Nathan and I because we divided the components: I made the sauces, he made the noodles and did the mountains of dishes and we assembled the final product together. Now that I’ve stressed the amount of work…do not be scared away from making this! Nathan and I agreed that it was so worth it…taste wise and quantity wise. We currently have 17 leftover pieces of lasagna in the freezer for many future meals that we’ll carefully space out so we don’t get sick of it (if it’s even possible to get sick of heavenly lasagna perfection). Make this ‘project’ dinner with someone you love! Or at least someone you can stand being in the kitchen with for 8 hours…
I wanted to pair an Italian wine with our lasagna but I didn’t want to get a traditional old Chianti. After searching around in the Italian section at our wine store I settled on this affordable and tasty Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It’s one of those wines that isn’t the best by itself but compliments lasagna or tomato-based pastas so so well. It’s full-bodied with juicy dark berry flavors and a hint of spice. A dish like the lasagna bolognese needs a wine that will simply showcase the dish without drawing too much attention to itself and this wine did the job!
“Smooth and hoppy. That’s how we roll.” is what it says on the can for this craft brew and it is true for sure. Duckpin is a great representative of pale ales. It is a light-drinking beer with a citrusy hop aroma that pours a golden amber with lots of bite from the citrus hops at first taste which mellows out into a mild malt character as you swallow. The hops cut clean through the rich flavors of our lasagna and when the malt kicked in, cleaned the palate, and prepared you for the next bite of amazing homemade lasagna. Honestly, I’m surprised that Italians didn’t invent the Pale Ale because it goes perfectly with Italian food!
Based on this recipe
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef chuck
1 pound mild Italian sausage
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
Fresh pasta dough:
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
4 large eggs, room temperature
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Unsalted butter, room temperature (for dish)
2.5 cups finely grated Parmesan
Special Equipment: A pasta maker
Make the Bolognese sauce:
1. Pulse onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor until finely chopped.
2. Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add ground beef and Italian sausage; cook, breaking up ground meat with a spoon, until moisture is almost completely evaporated and meat is well browned, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
3. Add wine to pot and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until moisture is almost completely evaporated, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors meld and sauce thickens, about 3 hours.
Let sauce cool until you are ready to assemble the lasagna.
Make the fresh pasta dough:
1. Whisk salt and 3 cups flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center, and crack eggs into well.
2. Mix eggs with a fork, then slowly mix in flour until a shaggy dough forms.
3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting lightly with flour if sticky, until smooth, about 5 minutes (it will be fairly stiff). Wrap in plastic; let sit until dough holds an indentation when pressed, 1–2 hours.
Make the noodles:
1. Set pasta maker to thickest setting; dust lightly with flour. Divide dough into 4 pieces.
2. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping remaining dough wrapped in plastic as you work, flatten dough into a narrow rectangle (no wider than mouth of machine); pass through rollers .
3. Fold dough as needed to fit and run through again. Repeat without folding, adjusting machine to thinner settings after every pass and dusting with flour if sticky, until pasta sheet is 1/16″ thick (setting 8 on most machines).
4. Place pasta sheets on a lightly floured surface and cut crosswise into 16 8″-long noodles.
Make the béchamel:
1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foaming.
2. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in warm milk, 1/2-cupful at a time.
3. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until the consistency of cream, 8–10 minutes; add nutmeg and season with salt.
4. Remove from heat, transfer to a medium bowl, and press plastic wrap directly onto surface; let cool slightly.
Cook the noodles:
1. Working in batches, cook fresh lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until just softened, about 10 seconds.
2. Remove carefully with tongs and transfer to a large bowl of ice water; let cool.
3. Drain noodles and stack on a baking sheet, with paper towels between each layer, making sure noodles don’t touch (they’ll stick together).
Assemble the lasagna:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13×9″ baking dish with butter.
2. Spread 1/4 cup béchamel in the prepared baking dish. Top with a layer of noodles, spread over a scant 3/4 cup Bolognese sauce, then 1/2 cup béchamel, and top with 1/4 cup Parmesan.
3. Repeat process 7 more times, starting with noodles and ending with Parmesan, for a total of 8 layers.
4. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake lasagna until bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 50–60 minutes. Let lasagna sit for 30-45 minutes before serving.