Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meat Lasagna

I came across a totally amazing lasagna recipe! Don't be intimidated by how long the instructions are- it is pretty detailed, step-by-step, but it really didn't take too long to prepare. If you are going to go to all the trouble of making lasagna, you might was well make it awesome... so here is the recipe! It had a great flavor! I actually added a little bit of cinnamon to the sauce and I think it enhanced it.

Meat Lasagna
Preheat oven to 375°F

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
28 oz. puree tomatoes (Or jar of marinara sauce)
28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
15 oz. ricotta cheese (I used cottage cheese)
1-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
12 oven ready lasagna pasta (Or regular noodles boiled.)
16 oz. mozzarella cheese


15 oz. container of whole milk ricotta cheese, 16 oz. mozzarella, 1-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 large egg, and on 8 oz. package of oven ready (no-boil) lasagna pasta. The egg should be lightly beated with a fork.

For the layers, put the ricotta cheese, a cup of parmesan (reserving 1/4 cup for use later), the chopped basil, beaten egg, and some salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each works well) into a medium bowl for mixing. Mix the ricotta and flavorings together with a fork, spoon or spatula until it's relatively smooth. Set aside.

Meat Sauce

First, heat a very large pan or pot (a dutch oven works well) over medium flame. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into the heated pan. After it begins to shimmer, put the finely chopped onions into the pan. Cook for about two minutes, stirring occasionally. We want the onions to soften but not brown.

Add garlic at this point and cook for another two minutes - stirring occasionally. Try not to brown the garlic.

Once the garlic is fragrant, add the ground beef and italian sausage and increase heat to medium-high. Break up any large clumps of meat while stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the meat loses it's pink color, but not start to brown (about three to four minutes). Now stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream to help hold the meats together a bit. Allow the mixture to simmer and thicken until most of the water in the cream has evaporated.

Now, add a can of pureed tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes (drained). Stir the mixture until evenly distributed and bring to a simmer. After bubbles begin to form, lower the heat to low and cook for a few more minutes. The sauce is now done and we can set this aside to work on the layers.


Assembling the lasagna is easy, but pay attention to the amount of sauce you have and how many layers there will be. Prepare a 13x9 in. baking pan by applying a thin layer of meat sauce to the bottom, using just enough sauce to coat.

Distribute the ricotta cheese onto the lasagna noodles (about 2 tablespoons per noodle). Cover with mozzarella cheese, then meat sauce. Repeat until layers are completed. The top layer needs to have the ricotta put on before placing it in the pan, then place it upside down (ricotta facing downwards). Make sure to put sauce on the top or the top layer of the lasagna will dry out and be super crunchy.

I put more mozzarella and Parmesan on top (pretty liberally) but it depends on how much cheese you like (I LOVE cheese!).

Before baking, cover the top with aluminum foil. To help prevent cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil, brush or spray some oil onto the foil. Place the lasagna onto the middle rack in a preheated 375F oven for 15 minutes. I like to place the pan in a baking sheet in case any bubble over occurs. After fifteen minutes have passed, remove the foil and continue baking for 25 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the lasagna to cool for a few minutes before cutting and serving.
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