Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sarah & Bootsi's Lasagna Bolognese

My friend Sarah's grandmom is a Redskins fanatic and a sensational cook. When Sarah took the reigns in cooking for their family get togethers, she wanted to pay homage to Bootsi's classics, while adding her own twist and I am very happy to share her lasagna recipe with you.
Like most good Italian American families, our holiday meals always include an antipasta and italian wedding soup followed by braciole, manicotti or lasanga to serve alongside the usual suspects. Even as a stellar chef and baker (baking a whole cake or pie almost every night of week?!?), my Grandmother, Bootsi, always regarded cooking as a hapless chore and happily announced her retirement this year. Following the Redskins has become a full time job. I was quickly named her successor for those classics. This Northern Italian version, which I found in Cook's Illustrated and adapted, is not the typical ricotta, spinach and sausage gooey delight. This version is light and creamy with a meat sauce that has became my go to Ragu...sorry Bootsi! Go Skins, you rat bastards!
Sarah & Bootsi's Lasagna Bolognese
1 medium carrot
1 medium rib celery
1/2 small onion
(28 ounce) can whole tomatoes with juice
2 Tbs. butter
12 ounces ground beef
12 ounces ground pork
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups dry vermouth
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
3/4 tsp. salt
15 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles (9 ounces) I used all brands, San Giorgio is the BEST, people will think you made it fresh.
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups) I used a mix of Parmesan Reggiano and Reggianito (Argentinian Cheese)

The usual suspects...
Ragu: Finely chop carrot, celery, and onion, set aside. Process or blend tomatoes with juice, set aside. Heat butter in large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat until foaming; add carrot, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened- not browned, about 5 minutes. Add ground meats and cook, breaking meat into 1-inch pieces with wooden spoon, about 1 minute. Add milk and stir, breaking meat into 1/2-inch bits; bring to simmer and cook, stirring to break meat into small pieces, until almost all liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes. Using potato masher or wooden spoon, break up any remaining clumps of meat (no large pieces should remain). Add wine and bring to simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in tomato paste until combined, about 1 minute; add chopped tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. (You should have about 6 cups meat sauce.) Transfer meat sauce to bowl and cool until just warm to touch, about 30 minutes.
Béchamel: While meat sauce simmers, melt butter in medium saucepan. Add flour, stirring constantly, about 1 1/2 minutes; mixture should not brown. Gradually whisk in milk; increase heat to medium-high and bring to full boil, whisking frequently. Add salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, making sure to scrape bottom and corners of saucepan. (You should have about 3 1/3 cups.) Transfer béchamel to bowl and cool until just warm to touch, about 30 minutes.
Noodles: Place noodles in 13- by 9-inch baking dish and cover with hot tap water; soak 5 minutes, moving noodle around occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water, place in single layer on kitchen towel, and pat dry. Wipe out baking dish and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Stir béchamel; mix 3/4 cup warm béchamel into warm meat sauce.

Assembly: Distribute 1 cup béchamel-enriched meat sauce in baking dish. Place three noodles in single layer on top of sauce, arranging them close together, but not touching, at center of pan. Spread 1 1/4 cups béchamel-enriched meat sauce evenly over noodles, spreading sauce to edge of noodles but not to edge of dish. Drizzle 1/3 cup béchamel evenly over meat sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 cup Parmesan evenly over béchamel.
Repeat layering of noodles, béchamel-enriched meat sauce, bechamel, and cheese 3 more times. Place final 3 noodles on top and cover completely with remaining béchamel, spreading béchamel with rubber spatula and allowing it to spill over noodles. Sprinkle evenly with remaining Parmesan.
Bake: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray large sheet foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna; bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 450 degrees, and continue to bake until surface has brown spots, about 15 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.

Grandmom Bootsi...
Me and Sarah. I see the family resemblance! And yes...that is Lime green faux fur. What would YOU wear to the Tonys?!?!


  1. This is great Sarah and Emily :) Love the "you rat bastards!" Can't wait til Christmas dinner to have some lasagna. Love ya

  2. Can't wait to see you Rachel! You know you want to more to bal-mer! xo

  3. Yes!!! We can't wait to have you back up here, Rach. Nobody better spill the beans to Boosti that I am an Eagles fan or else she will HATE me for sure :)

  4. Lime green fur.... hm... Why did Kermit have to die? fur is murder! lol