Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
SERVES 6 TO 8
Lasagne alla Bolognese uses two sauces in its preparation, cream sauce, and a meat sauce known as ragu. A Bolognese ragu is slow simmered for at least an hour to develop a complex flavor and proper thickness. Cooking the ragu in a heavy-duty enamel or similar pot will hold the heat steady and help to give it a velvety texture. Bolognese ragu is a classic sauce for lasagne and tagliatelle.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups hot milk
Fine sea salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat; do not let the butter brown. Whisk in the flour and cook it until a uniform paste is formed and no streaks of flour remain. Slowly whisk in the milk in a steady stream. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring slowly until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons spinach, cooked and squeezed dry
2 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Add spinach to the bowl of a food processor with the eggs and salt and process until smooth. Then add flour, starting with 2 cups, and adding just enough to make a dough that's a pliable consistency without being too wet or dry. Let dough rest for 1/2 hour.
Working with half the dough at a time, either by hand or using a pasta machine, thin the dough to about 1/16-inch thick and cut the pasta into 3 by 6-inch oblongs. Cook them in rapidly boiling salted water for about 1 minute. Transfer the cooked lasagna pieces into a dish of ice water to quickly cool them down, then pat them dry and lay them on a clean towel-covered cookie sheet.
1/4 pound pancetta in 1/4-inch slices
1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled and quartered
1 medium rib celery, quartered
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound skirt steak or chuck blade steak, coarsely ground
1/2 pound boneless veal shoulder, coarsely ground
1/2 pound boneless pork loin, coarsely ground
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch ground nutmeg (Optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup milk or cream
Mince the pancetta, onion, carrot, and celery together and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty Dutch oven type pot. Cook the pancetta and minced vegetable mixture over low heat uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the ground meats, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and brown completely. Stir the tomato paste into the wine and add it to the meat mixture. Simmer the ingredients uncovered for 45 minutes, adding the milk or cream a little at a time to keep the mixture from sticking while it cooks. The milk also lends richness and creaminess to the sauce, which will be quite thick.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch lasagna pan.
Place a layer of the spinach pasta in the pan and cover them evenly with a layer of the cream sauce. Spread a layer of the ragu sauce over the cream sauce and sprinkle the top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Add another layer of lasagna noodles and continue as above until all the ingredients have been used, ending with a layer of cream sauce and a sprinkling of cheese.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes, covered, before serving.
Note: You may also use store-bought no-boil lasagna noodles in this recipe with excellent results.