OK, here I go . . . jumping into a new Italian recipe as promised. This is one of the most traditional recipes prepared for the Italian Carnevale 2-week long celebration. Now, I do have my own lasagna recipe that my family cherishes . . . and there are numerous types of lasagna recipes in cookbooks and online.
But then it seems that sometimes my family gets so loyal to our own family recipes that to try something new is almost sinful! But I really think that part of the fun and JOY of cooking is experimenting and trying new things. So here I go, jumping right in with the first Carnevale recipe! HOWEVER, after reading 2 or 3 recipes that I found in my cookbooks, I will have to say that I HAVE ALREADY MADE SEVERAL ADJUSTMENTS to the recipe that I found to be lacking in a few ways!
Le Grande Lasagna di Carnevale
First prepare the ‘ragu’ or Bolognese Sauce — “Sugo Alla Bolognese” (often called ‘gravy’ in Italian-American homes, although this term was never, EVER used in my family because as Americans we associate ‘gravy’ with what is poured on mashed potatoes).
Bolognese Ragu (Meat Sauce )
What you need for the Bolognese Sauce:
6 Tbsp. butter
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. ground sirloin
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground veal
salt and pepper
2 cups fresh tomato sauce or tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth/stock.
1/4 cup Italian parsely, finely chopped
What you need to do to prepare the Bolognese sauce:
Saute’ the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the butter.
After about 5 minutes and the vegetables are softened a bit, add the ground meats.
Add the salt and pepper, the tomato sauce, wine, broth/stock, and parsley.
Simmer this mixture slowly for approximately 2 1/2 hours, adding another 1/2 cup of beef broth/stock to your desired thickness . . . which this should be fairly thick, not like a thinner marinara sauce is.
Next prepare the meatballs, which is one of the major reasons why this lasagna is so different from mine:
the addition of little meatballs! :
Meatballs (Polpette alla Napoletana)
What you need for the meatballs:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1 pound ground veal
1/4 prosciutto, finely chopped
1 cup Parmigiana Regiano cheese
8 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced (my addition again!)
1 cup plain bread crumbs
3 Jumbo eggs, slightly beaten
Butter to saute’
This makes about 4 batches of meatballs, so divide up what you do not use and FREEZE them for using later . . .
this will save you so much time later on when you want meatballs.
What you need to do to prepare the meatballs:
Chop up the prosciutto.
With your (clean) hands, mix the 4 meats and Parmigiana cheese together.
Add the parsley, garlic and bread crumbs.
Add the beaten egg. Check moisture level: if too wet, add more bread crumbs.
Form this mixture into very small 1/2″ to 1″ size meatballs.
Saute’ the meatballs in butter (about 2 Tbsp. should be enough) for 10 minutes,
stirring so all sides of the meatballs are cooked.
Remove from butter and place on a plate. Use an absorbent towel if desired and then keep the meatballs warm.
Next make the white sauce by blending the following 3 ingredients:
2 cups Ricotta cheese
3 Tbsp. Italian parsley
1 Jumbo egg
ASSEMBLING THE LASAGNA:
Pre-heat oven to 360 degrees (180 C).
1 lb. Barilla lasagna noodles
1/4 lb. prosciutto (in one big piece), then finely chopped up
1/4 pound Italian Genoa salami, cut in 3 slices, then finely chopped up
1 cup grated FRESH Parmigiana Regiano cheese
1 cup grated FRESH Mozzarella cheese
In a LARGE deep pot, boil some slightly salted water. Partially cook the lasagna noodles HALF of the time indicated on the box (they continue to cook in the oven). Remove the noodles from the water and in a colander, run COLD water over the noodles.
Butter or spray with olive oil (such as ‘Pam’) a DEEP lasagna pan.
Lay a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan to help prevent the first layer of noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Lay the first layer of lasagna noodles onto the sauce . . . overlapping each noodle just a little bit.
Spread a thin layer of of the Ricotta/egg/parsley mixture.
Evenly spread a layer of meatballs.
Sprinkle a layer of the chopped prosciutto and salami
With a large ladel or spoon, pour on a layer of sauce (ragu) on top.
Sprinkle a thin layer of Mozzarella.
Sprinkle a thin layer of Parmigiana cheese.
REPEAT until all ingredients are used up.
I try to always have a minimum of 3 layers, but let’s see how many this recipe will make.
Bake for 30 minutes.