My kitchen adventure continues . . . as I now tackle the rest of the lasagna. Thanks to the previous recipe, a bottle of wine is open and looking a bit lonely. So, I grab a glass, or two, to assist in the process then jump into the next steps. Noodles, béchamel, noodles, assembly.
Note: I had never made noodles before. Believe me, this is less daunting once you are a half bottle into the process.
All of the time and energy (and flour all over the place) is totally worth it, though. This was absolutely the best lasagna that I have ever had. Made all the more delightful when you can say that it is made from scratch. So, take an afternoon and enjoy the experience.
- full amount Ragù alla Bolognese recipe
- lasagna noodles
- béchamel sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 3/4 cup semolina flour
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Prepare the bolognese sauce and set aside or allow to simmer on low heat.
- Begin to make the pasta dough.
- After the pasta dough has rested, cut the dough ball into four equal pieces. Leaving the remaining dough under the bowl, take one of the pieces of dough and flatten it with the palm of your hand. This will make it easier to initially push it through the machine.
- Pat both sides of the dough with flour. Start coaxing the dough through the largest opening of the pasta machine (No. 1 on mine). Fold dough lengthwise into thirds, and rotate 90 degrees.
Pass through the machine two more times.
- Keep feeding the dough through the rollers, moving the size notch up one number higher each time. Pat the strips of pasta with flour to avoid sticking.
- Continue to roll dough through ever-finer settings, 2 passes each, until sheet is almost translucent (No. 6 on my machine).
- Repeat this process for each of the four sections of the pasta dough.
- Cut sheets in to 13 inch strips. Transfer lasagna noodles to a drying rack for 1 hour.
- Prepare the béchamel. When done, keep it warm in the upper half of a double boiler over very low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent a film from forming.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 2 to 3 noodles at a time for 90 seconds.
- Using a wire-mesh skimmer, transfer noodles to cool water, and swirl a few times.
- Place cooked noodles on a parchment-lined baking sheet until ready to use, placing a piece of parchment between layers.
- Thickly smear the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with butter and one tablespoon of béchamel.
- Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of pasta strips, allowing no more than 1/4 inch overlap.
- Combine the bolognese and the béchamel and spread a thin coating of it on the pasta.
- Sprinkle on some of the grated cheeses, then add another layer of pasta.
- Repeat this process, building up at least six layers of pasta.
- Sprinkle the top-most layer with the remaining cheeses and dot with butter.
- The lasagna may be complete up to two days in advance up to this point. Refrigerate under tightly sealed plastic wrap.
- Bake on the uppermost rack of the oven for 5-10 minutes at 400 degrees F.
- Increase the heat to 450 degrees F and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until a light, golden crust forms. (Do not bake longer than 15 minutes total).
- Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
* This recipe is loosely adapted from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
- Place the semolina and regular flour into a food processor bowl.
- Add the eggs, then pulse the ingredients until a ball starts to form.
- Add more flour or semolina if it seems too sticky.
- Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes.
- Let the dough rest under a bowl for at least one hour.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to medium low, bringing the milk just to the verge of boiling.
- While the milk is heating, melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Once melted, turn the heat to low and whisk in the flour. Cook, while stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Do not the flour to become colored. Remove from heat.
- Add the milk to the flour and butter mixture 1/4 of a cup at a time. Stir steadily and thoroughly until all of the milk is smoothly incorporated.
- Place the pan over low heat, add the salt, and cook until the sauce is as dense as thick cream. Stir constantly.