Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Drop Dead Lasagna

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I don't go crazy during Thanksgiving except to bring a few dishes to my parent's house so it was a good time to take a blogging break. Christmas, however, is a whole 'nother story!

I make this lasagna every year for Christmas dinner at my house. It's special for the holiday in terms of taste & effort & the whole family loves it!

Tyler Florence says this is the old-school lasagna that you find in the Italian restaurants in Brooklyn. Fuggedaboudit! You can assemble the lasagna ahead of time...& it's great for leftovers.


Printable Recipe

1 lb lasagna noodles
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 tblsp fennel seeds
1/2 tblsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tblsp dried oregano
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
Salt & Pepper
2 lb ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cups Marinara Sauce (see notes)
Additional Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Fill a large pasta pot with water & place over high heat. Add a generous amount of salt & bring to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles for only 8 minutes; they should still be somewhat firm, as they will continue to cook when you bake the lasagna. Drain the noodles in a colander & rinse them quickly under cool water to stop the cooking process. Drizzle some olive oil so the sheets don't stick together, then set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat & drizzle with 2 tblsp of olive oil. Sauté the onion, garlic & bay leaf for a couple of minutes, until the onions are translucent & smell sweet. Add the ground beef & pork, stirring to break it up & cook until the meat is thoroughly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the excess fat. Combine the fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, brown sugar & dried oregano in a spice mill or a coffee grinder, give it a whirl & sprinkle on the browned meat. Stir in the tomato paste until well blended; season with salt & pepper. Take the pan off the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta & Parmigiano cheeses. Fold in the parsley, basil & eggs, season with salt & pepper. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350. Take inventory of the components you should have: slightly cooked lasagna noodles, seasoned meat mixture, ricotta cheese filling, 2 pounds of mozzarella cheese, a pot of sauce & a 13 x 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Let the layering begin.

Start by ladling enough sauce into the dish to cover the bottom; this prevents the lasagna from sticking. Layer 1 -- the noodles: slightly overlap 4 lasagna noodles lengthwise so they completely cover the bottom with no gaps.

Here is a little tip I swear by: if you take 2 lasagna noodles & line the short ends of the pan, they will act as brackets or a wall to give the lasagna support when you cut it (see pic below)

Layer 2 -- the meat: spread half the meat mixture on top of the noodles with a spatula. The meat mixture, being the most solid element, will act as a foundation.

Layer 3 -- the cheese: spread half the ricotta cheese mixture over the meat, smooth out with a spatula.

Note the side brackets of lasagna noodles

Then sprinkle a third of the shredded mozzarella evenly over the ricotta mixture.

Layer 4 -- the sauce: top with a full ladle of tomato sauce, about 1 cup (see notes); smooth it out with a spatula. Repeat layers 1 through 4. Finish with a final layer of noodles, tomato sauce & the remaining mozzarella. Tap the pan lightly on the counter to force out any air bubbles & to compress the layers.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until golden & bubbling. Allow the lasagna to sit for 20 minutes so it doesn't ooze all over the place when you cut it into squares. Pass the extra tomato sauce & grated Parmigiano around the table.

{Food for Thought}

If you’re like me, you’ll want to have more sauce than just 4 cups. One ladle for each layer seems so little to me so I add more so the lasagna isn’t dry. And I also have extra for passing around. My favorite, if I am not up to making my own, is LaFamiglia DelGrosso. It's expensive but worth it. Last year I got lucky when they had a buy one get one free. Normally, it's $8 per jar.

The use of fennel has also become a bit of a conversation piece in my house since some people do not like it. If you have loved ones who don’t enjoy fennel I recommend cutting down the amount to 1 tsp because you can really taste the tablespoon. Lastly, you may want to increase the ricotta mixture by 50% as well. This way, you have more if you need. And if you have leftover just reserve for another use.

Tastefully linking to Blessed with Grace for Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!


starnes family said...

I love Tyler.....and this looks heavenly!

Angela said...

Oh wow, am I first!? I was checking blogs over lunch when you popped up! YAY!!

I adore lasagna. And I love the "side bracket" noodles. Great idea!

Write when you can! I miss ya!

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

I do lasagna at Christmas too! It is so easy to just assemble ahead of time and then pop it in the oven during the day. I may just try this one this year!

Kristina P. said...

I am obsessed with lasagna. My friend makes a lasagna to die for, with beschamel, rather than ricotta, and it's so creamy!

FROGGITY! said...

yum, i like your style. i am in the mood for casseroles and lasagnas these days. comfort food! (non-turkey comfort food, that is...)


Hiding Myself From Me said...

Ok, you peaked my interest. I'm going to try this and let you know how I do. hope you had a nice holiday !

Scary Mommy said...

Totally drooling over that. Looks amazing!! Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve later in the month!

heartnsoulcooking said...

AWESOME!!! recipe for lasagna. My family will like this one,

BeautifulDisaster311 said...

YUM--I gonna fix this for dinner tomorrow night! Hope you and the fam had a nice Thanksgiving holiday!

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm this looks goooood!!!

Michelle said...

That recipe is very similar to the one that I use all the time (well, except no fennel seeds as I am in the hater camp).

Love the tips on putting up the noodles on the side. I have never done that before.

Noelle said...

lasagna...my weakness. i'm with you, tho, i need more sauce. and fennel...? ick. i'll withhold that one tiny little ingredient.


Gloria said...

Really love lasagna and this look absolutely yummy and tasty! gloria

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Lasagna is my fav.
That sounds yummy!
I'll borrow your recipe right away!
Do I have your lovely blog in my friends-followers list?

Tender Branson said...

The black cheese! That's what I miss most about lasagna. I may have to go make me some.

Trixie said...

This looks amazing! I can't wait to try it.

Jen said...

Yum! I love a good lasagna. I think I need to make some this week.

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

What a fabulous lasagna! I love Tyler's recipes. Thanks again for the cheese prizes! Everything has arrived and I can't wait to have my cheese & dessert party!

Just Breathe said...

It sounds so delicious. I will try this one. I have a simple one that was my mother's recipe. I haven't made lasagna in while.
I think that Christmas might be a great day for this. Thanksgiving was wonderful.

Brenda said...

This is how I like my lasagna! I have never tried it with fennel like that, but I think we would really like that flavor.

Coco said...

Glad you are back! I was about to email you this morning to see what was up!!!

LOVE lasagna, especially a good meaty one that is old school.

I also like how you do something a little untraditional during the holidays. We do pizza or Chinese on Christmas Eve.

Deanna said...

Oh to be able to crawl through the computer and right into that pan! YUM!!

Sweet Pea Chef said...

I love, love, love lasagna. I have a good veggie lasagna recipe, but have been looking for a solid meat based one. I found it at your site! Thanks for sharing...you have such great ideas.

Life with Kaishon said...

I have never met a plate of lasagne I didn't love :) This one looks especially good!

Kerstin said...

Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food and this one looks fabulous!

simpledaisy said...

Glad you're back:)
I was thinking about lasagna for christmas but since we won't be back from Key West until christmas eve.....I think it'll be frozen lasagna~ Owell...

Tam said...

Tyler...rocks...he is a fly guy! I love his meatballs! This looks yummy!!!!! Happy Holidays!!!!!

Pam said...

Tyler is the best. This lasagna looks totally mouth watering. I would love a piece for dinner right now!

Life, Love And Lola said...

Hey Girl!!!! Ok...So he loves lasagna...I'm gonna make this dish!

Missed ya! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Tiaras said...

looks delicious - I like the idea of putting the pasta on the side - I never have thought to try that one!

The Blonde Duck said...

I really want lasagna now.

strokeofliving said...

I have a blog award for you - I just adore your recipes. Come on over and get it :-)

Healthy Shift Worker said...

That is one massive lasagna!!

Ronda said...

Wow, this looks great! For sure gonna try this one! HOW ARE YOU?? I hope you had a Happy Turkey day. Mine was nice, but I was so busy and tired afterward. I'm getting used to it though. I hope you have a stress-free December, I know it must be a big time for you with Tristan. What is the big item of the hour for him this year? Just take a deep breath, it will be over soon!
I hope you and your family are well and happy. I think we might be coming to Florida after Christmas. My hubby's best friend has a house in Marco Island. Personally, I would really like to just stay put and enjoy my 10 days off from school. My husband has other plans! I guess this is pretty far from you.
Anyway, take care and have a great week. Talk soon!

Fresh Mommy said...

Lasagna is one of my FAVORITE dishes!!!! So naturally I'm drooling. I'd love to make a couple of these and freeze one for a lazy night, so we can still eat some delish food when lazy, :)

Debbie said...

Yum! I love lasagna. This recipe looks incredible.

Meals by Misty said...

Wow. I wasn't hungry until I found your blog. I LOVE T-Flo (Tyler Florence-Kim from Stirring the Pot came up with that name for him)I have a huge crush on him and love everything he makes.

I'm saving this recipe and I'll be back to check out your blog again very soon!

Lula! said...

Um..."brackets" of lasagna noodles?

GENIUS! I'd never thought to do that, but leave it to you, Steph.

This is one dish which requires serious effort...with seriously delicious end results. Of course I printed it out...and plan to make it very soon. Will let you know how it goes...

Mommy's Kitchen said...

That looks awesome Steph. Your right drop dread yummy.

Maria said...

That is a mighty lasagna!

Jessica Nunemaker said...

OH that does look good! As an Italian, I am pretty sure I have red sauce running through my veins. ;)

Thanks for sharing -- I'll be bookmarking your blog for sure (if I haven't already).

Merry SITsmas.

Merry Mack said...

I am inspired and have lasagna on the list for the weekend. Yum! I need a great cookie idea and I have to make 8 dozen. Isn't that insane? Got any ideas?

Chef E said...

Man, I have not had lasagna in a long while, so I have to get on this soon! Yours looks so darn good...

Chef E said...

Man, I have not had lasagna in a long while, so I have to get on this soon! Yours looks so darn good...

Kiera said...

I still visit you every time you post but like I said, Im a crappy commenter. Every time I come to your blog I get hungry and when I saw this lasagna I almost fell out of my chair. The cheese on top looks SOOOOO delicious. Unfortunately I don't cook and if I did, I doubt my cheese would be as perfectly cooked as yours because I have a tendency to burn everything. You truly have a gift. I've said this before but Im fascinated with people who can cook like you. Now if only there was a way I could taste it...

Deanna said...

You are so right... I. AM. DYING!!!

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Anonymous said...

I made this lasagna several times and it was a hit! It's just a lot of work but I must say, all the hard work pretty paid off! I highly recommend trying the DROP DEAD LASAGNA. Tyler Florence rules!

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