The March 2009 Daring Baker 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.
This is my first month in the Daring Baker’s Challenger and it definitely proved to be work! My triceps are KILLING me from rolling out handmade lasagne noodles. Don’t ask me why I didn’t use a pasta attachment with my KitchenAid… I guess I was just feeling adventurous and daring.Needless to say… I won’t ever be rolling out lasagne noodles by hand again – literally my arms feel like like are going to fall off – but the pain was well worth the reward and I am pretty sure all of my guests loved the dish!
This lasagne is unlike any other that I have ever had, and it was so amazing. It is not your typical weeknight meal so if you’re going to attempt this one make sure you have plenty of time because it took me about 5 hours to do the whole thing (maybe a little less if I didn’t get sidetracked)
Daring Bakers: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna
Spinach Lasagne noodles
- 2 jumbo eggs
- 10 ounces fresh spinach rinsed dry, and finely chopped
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 2/3 cups milk
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- Ragu alla Contadina
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces pancetta finely chopped
- 1 medium onion minced
- 1 medium stalk celery with leaves minced
- 1 small carrot minced
- 4 ounces boneless veal shoulder or round
- 4 ounces pork loin trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces
- 8 ounces beef skirt steak
- 1 ounce thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
- 2/3 cup dry red wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock homemade if possible
- 2 cups milk
- 3 canned plum tomatoes drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- To prepare the pasta:
- Steam the spinach for a few minutes and then squeeze all the liquid out using a potato ricer. On a large surface pile your flour and make a well in the center. Add the eggs into the well. Mix with spinach and the eggs together with a fork. Start adding the flour until all the flour is mixed into the pasta. Knead by hand for 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest at room temp for 30 minutes. THEN... comes the hard part. You need to cut this into 4 equal sized pieces and roll it out until its paper thin... all I can say is good luck. I hope you have a pasta attachement and your smart enough to use it! Cut your pasta pieces into 4 x 8 inch strips and cook in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove the cooked pasta and soak in an ice bath and then set to rest on paper towlel until ready to assemble.
- To prepare the bechamel:
- In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium hight heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a whisk, for 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, and whisk together. Add the grated nutmeg. Whisk and cook over medium heat for several minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
- To prepare the ragu:
- Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. (Can we all just take a qucick look at my fabulous new Le Cresuet pot – I am in LOVE) Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan and set over medium heat.
Then you can add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet aside.
Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.
Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper…. whew! So now that all of that is ready to go you can get started at preparing your dish!
On the top layer of pasta, spread the bechamel sauce and top with parmesan cheese – I used a bit of mozzarella too because I am obsessed with cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until golden brown. Once cooked, remove this from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving!