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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lasagna Bolognese with Bechamel

I'm just not ready for summer to end!

I'm not ready for my kids to be back at school.  It frees up a bit of my time, but what good is having extra time if they're not around to spend it with?

I guess I'll spend some of that extra time cooking.  Lasagna, for example.  I don't typically spend 2 1/2 hours cooking dinner (who does?), but when I do, this lasagna makes it worth my while!

Today's Playlist
  • "Swinging On A Star"...Frank Sinatra
  • "One Fine Day"...The Chiffons
  • "Another Saturday Night"...Sam Cooke
  • "Do You Love Me"...The Contours
  • "Pretty Little Angel Eyes"...Curtis Lee
  • "Mambo Italiano"...Dean Martin
  • "L-O-V-E"...Natalie Cole
  • "This Magic Moment"...Ben E. King
  • "Come On-A My House"...Rosemary Clooney
  • "I've Got The World On A String"...Michael Buble
  • "Jump In The Line"...Harry Belafonte

Lasagna Bolognese with Bechamel (adapted from Rachael Ray)

Bolognese sauce:
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree
  • 2 cups water
  • salt & pepper

Bechamel sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 1 1/4 cups grated parmesan

  • 1 lb. lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil, for garnish

Gather your ingredients.

Do your prep work.

Dice the pancetta into 1/2-inch pieces...

and then chop it into smaller pieces.

I cut the onion, celery and carrot into chunks...

put it in my mini-prep food processor...

and pulsed it until it was very finely chopped.

Or you could finely chop using a knife.  I was lazy.

Heat a deep skillet or pot (6 to 8 quart) over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the pancetta, stirring until the pancetta is lightly browned.  This should take about 5 minutes.

Push the pancetta to the sides of the pot and add the onions/celery/carrots, bay leaf and thyme.

Crush in the garlic.  Continue to stir and cook until the veggies are softened.

Push the veggies to the sides of the pan.  Adjust the heat to medium/high, and add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.  

Crumble the ground beef into the center of the pan.  Do not touch the ground beef for 3 minutes.  Do not poke it.  Do not stir it.  

Set a timer and sit on your hands if you have to.!

After 3 minutes, you can stir the ground beef to further break it into tiny pieces.

Cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the ground beef is nicely browned.

Add the tomatoes.

Pour in the water.

When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.    The sauce will thicken as it simmers.

Remove the bay leaf.  Here I am searching for the bay leaf.  

Ta-da!  Found it.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.  Turn off the heat.

Put a large (8-10 qt) pot of salted water on HIGH to boil for the lasagna noodles.

In the meantime, prepare the béchamel.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.

Whisk in the flour.

Cook for one minute, whisking constantly.

Whisk in the milk.  Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

Whisk in one cup of the parmesan cheese.

When the cheese is mixed in, turn off the heat.

Stir the béchamel occasionally as it cools, to prevent a skin from forming on top.

When the water on your stove starts to boil rapidly, add the lasagna noodles.  Cook the noodles according to package directions, until al dente.  This usually takes 7 to 10 minutes.

Drain the cooked lasagna.  

Return it to the pot you cooked it in and fill the pot with cold water; this will cool down the noodles to make them easier for you to handle, and the water will help prevent the noodles from sticking together.

Drizzle a teeny bit of olive oil into your 9 x 13-inch lasagna pan.

This will help prevent the lasagna from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Here is my lasagna-making station.  On the left I have the sauces.  The greased pan is in front of me, and the pot of noodles is to the right.  I will place a few noodles at a time onto a towel to drain before I assemble them into the pan.

And finally, out of the way in the upper right , is my computer open to my Pandora playlist.  Along with a glass of lemon water, because singing Italian songs makes my throat dry, haha.

Let's get started!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Start with one cup of the bolognese sauce.  Use a one-cup measuring cup and just pour it in and spread it to cover the bottom of the pan.

Add a layer of lasagna noodles.

Spread one cup of bolognese on the noodles.

Add another layer of noodles.  I put the layers in alternating directions, cutting to size.

Spread one cup of béchamel.

And repeat.

Noodles, one cup of bolognese.

Noodles, one cup of béchamel.

And finally, the top.

Noodles, spread with the remaining bolognese.

Dolloped with the remaining béchamel.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan.

And finally, the shredded mozzarella.

Loosely tent aluminum foil over the top, to prevent the lasagna from browning too quickly.  Leave a tiny vent on one side for any steam to escape.

And now I must confess that I really love crusty lasagna that browns too quickly.

Place the lasagna in your preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Here we are after 30 minutes.  Remove the foil, and continue to bake for 20 minutes more.


Allow it to stand for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Sprinkle with fresh, chopped basil.

And dig right in.


1 comment:

  1. Ah you temptress Fran! I may have to make this even if it takes me 3 or 4 hours. It looks heavenly. I love any and all italian favorite. You sure make some wonderful dishes. Keep them coming, lol.

    Love today's play list. Brought me back to some of my Mom's albums playing on the hifi. ;)


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