Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ultimate Lasagna

To decide what to cook for our first meal in the new kitchen, I turned to my husband. I could already guess what he'd choose for his "First Supper," if you will, and I was right: He chose lasagna, which he thinks is the most perfect food on the planet. In fact, in our house, we call my lasagna recipe a "Homer Simpson recipe," which is basically a dish that makes my husband say, "Mmmmm...[insert name of dish here]," followed by that noise Homer makes and a little bit of drool. Joe said that, during those long months of remodeling, the only thing that got him through was the thought of a steaming pan of lasagna waiting for him at the end.

My recipe for lasagna started years ago with -- I think -- the recipe for Italian Sausage Lasagna in The Betty Crocker Cookbook. However, when I make it now, it's really nothing like that recipe. I've modified it so much over the years that it's really become completely my own. I made it last night for the first time in over a year, and it was just as delicious as I remembered. (Joe enjoyed it, too, of course -- there was definitely some drooling going on while it was in the oven and the smell of it began to permeate throughout the house.) This lasagna is spicy, hearty, saucy and cheesy; in one word, it is perfect.

Ultimate Lasagna
Source: Cassie

12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 pound spicy sausage
1 pound ground chuck
1 package diced pepperoni
2 medium onions (or 1 large onion), chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup red wine
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
Your favorite blend of Italian herbs & spices
1 32-ounce carton of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning blend
4 cups Italian shredded cheese blend

1. Brown the sausage in a large pot; when the sausage begins to caramelize, add the ground chuck. When the meat is only slightly pink, add the pepperoni. Add the onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Season the meat and vegetable mixture with salt and pepper. When the vegetables start to become translucent, deglaze the pot with the red wine.

2. Once the alcohol has cooked out, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and your blend of Italian herbs and spices. If the sauce needs more sweetness, add a bit of sugar. Bring to a simmer.

3. While the sauce is simmering, cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Mix the ricotta cheese, parsley, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a bowl. If the mixture is a bit thick, add a small amount of milk to thin it out.

4. In a large casserole dish or lasagna pan, ladle enough of the sauce to cover the bottom. Top with four lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the shredded cheese (about 1 1/3 cups). Repeat layers, ending with the ricotta cheese mixture and the remaining shredded cheese.

5. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 to 20 more minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and the edges are brown.

This recipe makes a very large lasagna, so be prepared to have leftovers (unless you live in my house, that is). You could probably make two small lasagnas using this recipe and freeze one for later. It tastes even better the next day, so it's perfect for lunches the rest of the week. Enjoy!


Mrs. Ca said...

That sounds delicious, and perfect for freezing. I may have to do that so I can just pop one in the oven when I'm craving something hearty after my little one gets here.

So excited you started a food blog; as food is one of my few true loves in life. :)

Anonymous said...

The Ultimate Lasagna? And in a word "perfect? That's a bold claim to make when so many of us think WE cook the ultimately perfect lasagna. OK I better give this recipe of yours a try and see if I can see why...