Seriously, Best Lasagna Ever (thank you Smitten Kitchen!)
You have to make this! I don’t normally eat a lot of lasagna: I never order it at restaurants and we have it at home rarely. However, Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe and hailed it as her culinary Mount Everest, which piqued my interest. Soon after, Tuna Toast called it The Best Lasagna Ever. Boy, were they right!! Something that’s often a dense gut bomb was transformed into a light but comforting meal that had me looking forward to dinner several nights this week. Call me Garfield.
It takes some time to put together, but the methods aren’t difficult. The bolognese I knew I could handle. However, pasta was new for me. I got a KitchenAid pasta attachment for Christmas last year and had yet to use it. I’d previously attempted bechamel twice for moussaka and failed both times. Deb’s directions seemed straightforward so I went for it. We hibernated last weekend after consecutive weekends out of town, so I had the time to enjoy the process.
On Saturday, I made the bolognese, which is a simple meat sauce. I added an extra carrot because I like carrots and only had 1.75 cups of wine (I gave up wine for Lent so that’s all that was left in the previously opened bottle). Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe.
On Sunday morning, I made the dough for the pasta. My friend Tom said he can get homemade pasta ready before a pot of water boils, so once I get the hang of things, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Me and flour get pretty messy though.
I didn’t let the dough rest as Deb recommended because I had to get to yoga. It was fine. I did make sure to send the dough through the pasta maker a bunch of times to build up the elasticity (something I learned in a bread baking class). On the widest setting, I would send the dough through, fold it into thirds, and send it through again. I repeated this step a bunch of times until I felt the dough had good elasticity. Is this necessary? I don’t know, but my pasta tasted like pasta!
I left the rolled out pasta on wax paper and left for yoga.
When I got back, I cut the pasta into squares, boiled and shocked them per the recipe. The pasta had dried out a bit but that didn’t matter.
Again, followed the recipe almost exactly for the bechamel and it turned out great. The trick is to be patient and trust that the bechamel will turn out. In my previous failures, I panicked early on and added extra milk or flour which ruined the consistency in the end. This bechamel worked perfectly and I’ll just use this for all bechamels moving forward.
I made my layers a little meatier than Deb, but I had enough ingredients (I didn’t set any sauce aside as Deb recommended) for a large lasagna pan and a smaller 4.5×5.5 that went straight into the freezer. I could have easily made additional layers on the one pan but I knew I wanted freeze some for later. (UPDATE: I just ate the batch I froze and it was as delicious as the day I made it! Just thaw in the fridge the day before and bake as directed.)
Next time I am doubling this because it is so delicious and totally worth the effort!
Whiskey–all I’m drinking until Easter.