Oct 25, 2010

Tyler`s Ultimate Lasagna

Lasagna

The moment I laid eyes on Tyler Florence’ lasagna recipe on Food Network—after I managed to drag my eyes off of his fine-looking ehh, well, everything—I just knew this indeed had the potential of being the ultimate lasagna recipe.

Why? Well, the first thing I noticed was his Bolognese sauce: it’s spiked with different vegetables (and fresh herbs) that I was sure would flavor the sauce like no one’s business. I added some bell pepper because I thought it would enhance the flavor even more. And it did.

The second thing I’ve noticed: combining Bolognese sauce with cottage cheese (egg and parmesan) in lasagna is fairly basic, but he used ricotta instead. Brilliant! Ricotta and cottage cheese, though both very mild in flavor, have entirely different structures. In short, ricotta is made from the whey and cottage cheese is made from curds.

So if you’re blessed with men in your life who scream like a little girl at the thought of eating cottage cheese, know that ricotta has a similar flavor but a finer and more moist structure. It’s lighter, creamier and less lumpy so it will really blend in creating a phenomenal creamy, rich lasagna that your family will devour! Mark my words.


Ingredients:

1/2 to 1 package lasagna noodles
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground sausage
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 reasonably sized carrot
1 stalk celery
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cup beef broth
fresh basil (or 2 tbsp dried basil)
flat-leaf parsley (or 2 tbsp dried parsley)
oregano (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
pinch dried basil
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups ricotta
2 eggs
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 large mozzarella balls (roughly one pound)
parmesan (for topping)
pepper
salt

Optional: 1/2 cup red wine – 3 tbsp heavy cream – 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Note:

Few things I’ve tweaked:

Tyler added cinnamon to his sauce. Yeah, he sure did. It sounded like a freak combo and well, it was. Tried it, didn’t care for it and replaced it with nutmeg. Tomato sauces need a pinch of nutmeg anyway.

I omitted the flour, didn’t see the point in adding it. Same applies to the heavy cream he used. I felt it was overkill so I replaced it with skim milk. I also substituted the dry red wine he used for beef broth and added a can of tomato paste to intensify the tomato flavor.



Directions:

The meat: here’s 1 pound ground beef and one pound sausage (I just took them out of their casings). If you can get your hands on Italian sausage, go for that.
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Some veggies to create an even more intense flavor bomb.
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You can chop it all by hand, but I just threw it all into my food processor and blitzed a few times.
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If you’re going for fresh herbs (it really tastes better!), add a handful oregano, basil and parsley.
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Blitz a few more times until everything is finely minced.
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I don’t add my garlic to the food processor because chances are you’ll end up with huge chunks. I prefer to grate it.
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Brown the ground beef—while breaking it up with a spatula or spoon—until it’s no longer pink. Drain off all the fat. Yes, all of it!
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I just saved you an angioplasty. No worries, I’ll send you the bill later.

Add the minced vegetables and cook for a minute or 2. Then add the garlic, beef broth and a good pinch of black pepper, stir well and simmer for 15 minutes. You can replace the beef broth with dry red wine if you like.
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Spoon in the tomato paste and cook for a minute to sweeten it.
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Pour in the diced tomatoes.
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Season with salt (I’ve added 2 tsp salt and it was perfect, add 1 1/2 if you want to stay on the safe side), 1/4 to max 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, a good pinch of pepper, about a tsp dried basil and 2 tbsp milk.
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Stir well, bring to a boil, lower the heat and let the sauce simmer, without a lid, for 30 minutes.
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Those 30 minutes give you plenty time to take it to the next step.

The ricotta was so good in this lasagna! Don’t worry too much about your hips, ricotta is naturally low in fat. Get yourself 2 1/2 to 3 cups.
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Lightly beat 2 eggs and add them to the ricotta along with 2/3 cup parmesan (1 cup is fine by me, too) and a good pinch of pepper.
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Almost forgot the salt, add 1 tsp. Stir to combine.
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I couldn’t buy pregrated mozzarella so just bought 2 large balls and sliced them myself. Make sure you drain it really well or buy the low-moisture version!
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Blurry steam shot. After 30 minutes the sauce will have cooked down enough and it’s time to assemble the lasagna.
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Lightly oil a large oven dish, this will prevent the lasagna noodles from sticking to the bottom.
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Another thing about the lasagna noodles. I don’t cook mine first. Completely superfluous action, they’ll cook in the oven. Check your package to see if yours need to be cooked first.

Arrange the noodles in an overlapping layer. Somehow they never fit and I always end up with something that looks like a jigsaw puzzle. Oh well.
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Spread half the ricotta mixture over the noodles and level it.
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Top with half the Bolognese sauce.
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Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the meat sauce.
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Repeat this process: noodles, ricotta mix, meat sauce and mozzarella.
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Finish the lasagna with some grated Parmesan and a sprinkling dried basil. Tap the pan to get rid of air bubbles.
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Pop in a preheated oven and bake at 350F (175C) for 40 to 45 minutes. Until golden brown and the noodles are properly cooked. If at any point the top should get too brown, cover it with tinfoil.
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If this is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. This lasagna is love, people. Pure, real, unadulterated love.
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If you happen to see a perfectly layered lasagna online, you can bet your house it’s faux, fake, artificial. It’s fake food photography and the cheese is in fact mashed potatoes, if you’re lucky that is. Don’t ever think you did something wrong when you can’t achieve that look; it is simply not what a real lasagna looks like.

This is what a real lasagna looks like. All mixed up, totally collapsed but indescribably yummy!
Lasagna

Tyler’s Ultimate Lasagna
Ingredients
    1/2 to 1 package lasagna noodles
    1 pound ground beef
    1 pound ground sausage
    1 medium onion
    2 garlic cloves
    1 reasonably sized carrot
    1 stalk celery
    1/2 red bell pepper
    1/2 cup beef broth
    fresh basil (or 2 tbsp dried basil)
    flat-leaf parsley (or 2 tbsp dried parsley)
    oregano (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
    pinch dried basil
    2 14oz cans diced tomatoes
    1 6oz can tomato paste
    2 tbsp milk
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    3 cups ricotta
    2 eggs
    2/3 cup grated Parmesan
    2 large mozzarella balls (roughly one pound)
    parmesan (for topping)
    pepper
    salt
Directions
    Check to see if your noodles should be precooked. I never parboil mine.

    Use your food processor to mince all the vegetables or do it by hand. Blitz a few times, add the fresh herbs and blitz a few more times. Grate the garlic.

    Brown the ground beef and sausage while breaking it up with a spatula until it’s no longer pink. Drain of all the fat. Add the minced vegetables/herbs and cook for a minute or two. Then, add the garlic, beef broth, a good pinch of black pepper, stir well and simmer for 15 minutes. You can replace the beef broth with dry red wine if you like.

    Spoon in the tomato paste and cook for a minute to sweeten it, then pour in the diced tomatoes. Season with salt (I’ve added 2 tsp salt and it was perfect. Add 1 1/2 if you want to stay on the safe side), 1/4 to max 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, a good pinch of pepper, about a tsp dried basil and 2 tbsp milk. Stir well, bring to a boil, lower the heat and let the sauce simmer, without a lid, for 30 minutes.

    Put 2 1/2 to 3 cups ricotta in a bowl. Lightly beat 2 eggs and add them to the ricotta along with 2/3 cup parmesan (1 cup is fine by me, too), 1 tsp salt and a good pinch of pepper. Stir to combine.

    Slice the mozzarella (or use a shredded version). After 30 minutes the meat sauce will have cooked down enough. Lightly oil an oven dish and arrange the noodles in an overlapping layer. Spread half the ricotta mixture over the noodles and level it. Top with half the bolognese sauce and top that with half the mozzarella.

    Repeat this process: noodles, ricotta mix, meat sauce and mozzarella. Finish the lasagna with some grated Parmesan and a sprinkling dried basil. Tap the pan to get rid of air bubbles. Pop in a preheated oven and bake at 350F (175C) for 40 to 45 minutes. Until golden brown and the noodles are properly cooked. If at any point the top should get too brown, cover it with tinfoil.
Meal type: main course
Servings: 4 to 6
Copyright: © kayotickitchen.com
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