You can't beat this meat with a stick: Part Deux

Thyme for dinner, everyone! (Ba-da dum!)

Sometimes, life gives you extra Bolognese sauce. When that happens, I’m firmly of the mind that you should make lasagna Bolognese.

You’ll probably be tempted to invite some friends over for dinner when you do this, because one typically does not make a lasagna for two. I’m here to advise you that you might want to reconsider this; consider having your friends over on another night, a night when you’re having something not quite so good and you won’t mind having NO LEFTOVERS AT ALL because your friends LICKED the inside of the baking dish clean.

Just saying.

My stove: Cradle of Industry

Bolognese is a soul-warmingly-good dish of rich meat sauce, lasagna noodles and creamy bechamel. If you already have the sauce sitting around (which you should, at all times), the lasagna comes together in about the time it takes to par-cook the noodles; bechamel is a quick study.

You can add cheese if you like – layers of mozzarella between some of the pasta layers for added gooeyness, or a crust of grated parmigiano-reggiano over the top – but no ricotta is necessary (or desired) for a lasagna Bolognese. Frankly, I find that mozzarella also detracts from the finished dish. I won’t judge you for adding cheese, but…okay, yes I will. Don’t use cheese. Parm on the top is the limit of my tolerance.

No leftovers at ALL! I mean, seriously!

Bechamel is a simple enough affair: A light roux (equal parts butter and flour) with some milk whisked in, heated ’til it’s thickened. I season simply, just salt, pepper and a little fresh nutmeg (which is always tasty in a cream sauce, and especially welcome here with the cinnamon-tinged meat sauce). I also enriched this version just a little by whisking in an egg yolk to help the final product hold together.

Pre-dinner canapes.

I know that no-boil noodles are supposed to make my life easier, but I just don’t trust ’em. My inner nonna makes me feel guitly enough for not making my own fresh pasta, so no-boil noodles would probably send me into a bottomless shame spiral. Still, you can save a little time by par-boiling the noodles instead of cooking them all the way – 5 or 6 minutes rather than 9 or 10.

I had to cut off the noodle ends to get them to fit in my baking dish, so Brian made himself little hors d’oeuvres with the leftover meat sauce. I tried to point out tht the noodles were only par-cooked, but we don’t all care about nuances like that.

I’m still trying to figure out how to have my neighbors repay me.

After spreading some meat sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, I layered pasta – meat sauce – bechamel, ending with a final layer of pasta topped with bechamel and parmigiano. Since everything is already (mostly) cooked, the lasagna goes in the oven just to allow everything to heat and meld together, with a final 10 minutes under the broiler to make the top gorgeously bubbled and brown. It then needs to rest for 10 or 15 minutes so it can firm up a little for easy serving; don’t worry, it’ll still be plenty hot.

And you know what, even if you wait too long and end up with tepid lasagna – although, frankly, I’m not sure how someone could possibly have that problem – it won’t matter. Because it is that frigging good. The combination of the meaty Bolognese sauce with the rich and creamy bechamel is un-fucking-beatable. The hint of spice from the nutmeg and cinnamon adds warmth and depth.

Leftovers, if you have any, freeze well, so consider doubling the recipe.

Lasanga Bolognese: One situation in which hoarding behaviors are not necessarily pathological.

Lasagna Bolognese
1 quart Bolognese sauce
12 lasagna noodles
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. cream (or just use 3.5 c. milk)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
s&p to taste
1 large egg yolk
1/2 c. grated parmigiano-reggiano

Pre-heat your oven to 350.

Re-heat the meat sauce.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and the noodles. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until softened but not cooked all the way through. Remove from the water, being careful not to rip them up.

Make the bechamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, whisk in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes to get rid of any raw floury flavor. Whisk in the milk and cream, stirring the whole time to minimize lumps. Continue heating, stirring occasionally, until the sauce comes to a gentle boil; roux-thickened sauces do not fully thicken until they hit the boiling point. Stir in the nutmeg, and s&p to taste. Stir the egg yolk in in little dribs and drabs, whisking constantly.

Begin layering the components in an approx 6×8 casserole dish, starting with some meat sauce on the bottom and then adding noodles –> meat sauce –> bechamel. End with a layer of noodles covered in bechamel and sprinkled with the cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes, then turn on the broiler and cook for 5-10 minutes more, until the top is brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

21 thoughts on “You can't beat this meat with a stick: Part Deux

  1. Gah, tell me about having too much lasagne. Unfortunately, I always find room in my gullet for half a pan.

    Your photos have that soft, misty glow of soft porn today. Don’t think I didn’t notice.

  2. I can’t belive I am JUST NOW stumbling upon your blog via the leftover queen forum. Your recipes and fowl mouth are right up my alley : ) I am adding you to my blog roll toot sweet.

  3. The bolognese lasagna is my favourite way to make it…the bechamel keeps the slab together and they are still moist as a leftover. Good show!

  4. It’s late and I’m now feeling real hungry looking at this delicious looking meal. I will be attempting this for my supper tomorrow night.

  5. Did you win the foodie joust? I haven’t checked over there yet. CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This looks soooo good, seriously. I love lasagna.

  6. I was flipping through the latest Saveur and it’s all about pasta and they did this too. I was thinking it looked very good and so does yours.

    The first time I made lasagna, I used Mollie Katzen’s recipe and she said it wasn’t necessary to boil noodles. So I never have and it works every time. It really is a time saver!

  7. definition of comfort food: lasagna bolognese.

    ah, nutmeg. in the words of the fabulous rachael ray, “the thing that makes ’em go ‘hmm.'” (i hope your sarcasm detector went off for that one.)

  8. I love lasagna with beschiamella, but my OH hates it sadly. And so, with my leftover bolognese, I always make a Calabrian stuffed lasagna with prosciutto, hard-boiled eggs, and provola scattered throughout…by far his favorite thing I make.

    Also, no-boil noodles are your friend cara mia. Even the Italian ladies here in the boot use ’em ;)

  9. I recently had a big (but brief) argument with some foodie freak about bechamel and nutmeg. I ALWAYS add nutmeg and they disagreed. Obviously this person is of low quality. Love the pictures, they’ll making me all sweaty.

  10. heather: just after i took these photos, an attractive young pizza delivery boy came to the door…bawm-chicka-bawm-bawm.

    claudia: i think you know what you’re doing then, don’t you?

    brittany: the blog’s only 3 months old, so pretty much everyone is just stumbling over it. welcome!

    peter: i know, the leftovers are so good. i like to make it ahead of time so the whole thing is leftover.

    garry: let me know how it turns out for you!

    WoRC: try snuck in while i was pouring myself more wine, the wretches.

    ley: muchas gracias!

    emiline: i did – it’s the first thing i’ve ever won in my life, ever. i’m a little overexcited about it.

    DP & BE: i still don’t trust ’em. maybe the calabrian ladies use them, but the pugliese zie do not.

    grace: it was so much my sarcasm meter so much as my rachael ray disgust-o-meter that went off, but yes. something dinged.

    catherine: seriously, i’m not sure you can call that person a foodie. no nutmeg? madness.

  11. If I wasn’t so full right now I’d be weeping.

    Have you updated your CV yet with “award winning balls on a stick™?” I’d be overexcited if my balls won a contest.

  12. This was awesome. I was worried with how much liquid there was before I put it in the oven, but damn. One of the best lasagnas I’ve ever had. Thanks!

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