Friday, March 27, 2009
Daring Bakers Challenge: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
I must admit, this month's challenge was a little intimidating, the major yikes factor being that we had to make our own lasagna noodles. I love homemade pasta and all, but I don't have a pasta maker and I kept hearing about the sore arms and backs that rolling the dough gave other bakers that attempted the challenge before me. But you know what? It wasn't too bad. Sure, I felt like swearing a couple of times, especially in the beginning when I had to add WAY more liquid than the recipe called for and when after kneading the dough for 20 minutes I still wasn't sure if it had reached the desired consistency, but it all turned out fine in the end. And after five hours I had a very tasty lasagna to show for my efforts. Will I ever make it again? Not unless I get a pasta maker, but it was still fun to try.
I'm not going to post the entire recipe here because it's so long, but you can find it here. Just a note on the pasta, though. I ended up adding three jumbo eggs instead of two, two tablespoons olive oil, and 1/4 cup water to make it moist enough to incorporate all the flour, and from what I've read, nearly everyone else had to add extra liquid too. Also, I didn't use the ragu recipe that they included because on a starving student grocery budget I just couldn't afford to buy five different types of meat just to make one sauce, and I didn't like the idea of using veal anyway. Instead, I used the following recipe which I liked very much and will definitely make again whether for lasagna or as a spaghetti sauce:
12 ounces bulk Italian sausage or bulk pork sausage
12 ounces lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium-size carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery with leaves, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) lower-sodium diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 teaspoon each dried basil leaves and oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a Dutch oven (I used my big cast iron saucepan), cook sausage and ground beef over moderately high heat until meat is browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat from Dutch oven; drain well. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to pan drippings and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender; remove from the Dutch oven and drain well.
Wipe out Dutch oven. Return meat and vegetable mixture to Dutch oven. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring often.