Lasagna!

Lasagna

A confession: I like making lasagna a lot more than I like eating it. Fortunately, the roommates like eating it, and I do very much like making it. This version is unabashedly American: ground beef, cottage cheese instead of ricotta, a bit of cheddar. It’s also pretty beloved around here, for all its average-ness. The other oddity about it is that I don’t make a traditional meat sauce; instead, I make a giant pot of tomato sauce (usually with a bit of pancetta) and use a quart and a half of that, sprinkling the browned ground beef over it. Leaves plenty of sauce for a pizza or two and saves some dishes. I’m including the recipe for all of the sauce here, and leftovers can be boxed and frozen. This is a pretty easy recipe — making the sauce takes a while, but it’s just simmering away on the stove, and while the lasagna spends a while in the oven, it’s just hanging out in there without much interference.

I mentioned the roommates like eating this: while there were leftovers, one of them took said leftovers to work and ate them over the course of a week. (117 square inches of lasagna is a lot, after all.) It keeps well in the fridge and I suspect it would freeze just fine, too. Just portion it up first.

Lasagna, adapted quite a bit over the years from Bob’s Awesome Lasagna (not the same Bob as the pork chops)

Sauce:
1/4 lb. pancetta
1 large onion
8 cloves garlic
2 28-oz. cans plum tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Meat:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Cheese:
1 16-oz. container cottage cheese
1/4 c. parmesan
1 egg
1 tsp. dried oregano
pepper to taste

Assembly:
4 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 a 1-lb. box no-boil lasagna noodles

Make the sauce: cube the pancetta. Cook it over low heat in a giant pot until much of the fat is rendered. While it’s cooking, dice the onion fairly small and mince the garlic. When the pancetta is rendered, turn up the heat to crisp it up and then remove it from the pan. Add the onion to the fat that remains inside the pan and drop the heat again, cooking until it’s quite soft. Add in the garlic and toast it until it’s golden and smells delicious. Dump in the tomatoes and oregano and stir around. You can smoosh the tomatoes with a spoon or buzz the whole mess with a stick blender, as your chunkiness preference and equipment possession move you. Let it simmer for a good long time — a couplethree hours is nice — so the flavors meld and everything gets all soft and good. (If you want to use some of this as pizza sauce, as I did, I recommend making at least that portion a bit smoother.) Taste a lot through the process for seasoning.

Brown the meat: heat the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add in the meat, breaking it up with a spoon, season it, and stir until it’s about halfway to brown. Mince the garlic and add that in as well. Continue cooking until it’s cooked through, tasting for seasoning once it’s safe. Drain and set aside.

Cheesy layers: Grate the parmesan to fine shreds. Mix the cottage cheese, parmesan, egg, oregano and pepper. Set aside.

Assembly: Preheat the oven to 350F. Ladle a bit of red sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan, then layer in half the noodles. Add a third of the remaining red sauce, sprinkle on half the ground beef, sprinkle on half the mozzarella, and then dollop on half of cottage cheese and spread it around a bit. Then layer in the rest of the noodles, more red sauce, the rest of the ground beef, the rest of the cottage cheese, the last of the red sauce, the remaining mozzarella and all of the cheddar. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the cheese up top is beginning to brown. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting so it will hang together. Serve with salad and garlic bread, because carbs are delicious.

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~ by iliadawry on 22 February 2013.

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