My husband is generally pretty darn easy to keep happy. Lotsa lovin’, good cookin’ and a fridge stocked with beer. He’s a good man, my best friend and a wonderful husband so I take pleasure in making him happy.
For his birthday dinner each year I make him a Lasagna Fra Diavolo and a loaf of fresh crusty bread . . . it’s what he wants so that’s what he gets. Like I said, he’s not hard to please.
This is how I make my perfect lasagna. Your perfect lasagna may be different, but I swear that this is a fantasmic recipe!
I start with fresh, homemade sauce. I make mine with tomatoes I’ve canned from my garden. It’s quite simple to make. I add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a saucepan, add herbs & spices (garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of sea salt, a few grinds of pepper and hot pepper flakes. and let them sauté at medium low temperature until the garlic is translucent.
Then I stir in two quarts of canned tomatoes. I bring the sauce up to a near boil and then turn it down and let it simmer for a few hours until all the flavors have blended and the sauce is nice and thick. I make the sauce a couple days in advance to save time when I’m making the lasagna.
To make the lasagna you need:
2 Quarts Tomato Sauce
1 Pounds Bulk Italian Sausage
1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Pound Ricotta Cheese
1 Pound Cottage Cheese
1 Pound Sliced Or Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
4 Ounces Pepperoni
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
For the noodles (yes, I make my own)
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour (plus some, see below)
Brown the meat over medium-high heat and break it up as much as you can. Remove it from heat, drain any grease, and set aside. Once it’s cool stir in the ricotta and cottage cheeses.
Make the noodles by combining the flour, eggs and about a teaspoon or two of salt and mix on medium speed for 5-10 minutes.
Mix until all the flour is incorporated. Pasta dough should be somewhat dry so if it’s still sticky, add a little more flour. When everything is holding together, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until it’s smooth and satiny.
Then cut the dough into four equal parts, for the four layers of noodles we’re going to use.
In a deep lasagna pan, add a ladle of sauce in the pan and spread it around to coat the bottom.
Roll the pasta out into long strips. I use the Atlas pasta maker and it ROCKS! I cut one of the pre-cut chunks of dough in half and make two long noodles that I lay side by side long-wise in the pan.
Put the first layer of noodles in, making sure to overlap the edges a bit. Add another ladle of sauce to over the noodles. Put half of the meat/cheese mixture on top of the sauce.
Add a layer of sauce, noodles, sauce again. Lay the mozzarella on top of the sauce, top the cheese with pepperoni and sprinkle with hot pepper flakes. Reserve a quarter of the mozzarella for the top.
Then more noodles, more sauce, the rest of the meat/cheese ricotta mixture, sauce, noodles, and sauce on top.
DO NOT TOP WITH THE REST OF THE CHEESE YET!
The beauty of lasagna is you can prepare it in advance and cook it later. When you’re ready to cook it, cover the pan with foil and bake at 350° for about an hour.
Take it out and … it won’t look like you’ve even cooked it. Add the rest of the mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar cheeses.
Turn the oven up to 450 degrees and return the lasagna to the oven without the foil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown a little.
And that’s it.