Tuesday, April 13, 2010

World's Best Lasagna

I was craving something heavy, gooey, and cheesy on the weekend, and what else better satisfies all those things than lasagna? Other kinds of pasta just doesn't cut it, it had to be lasagna; the classic Italian casserole dish consisting of layers upon layers of pasta, melt-in-your-mouth cheesy goodness, heavy meat sauce, served hot, with a light side salad...YUMMY! This image (pretty close to the picture on the left) was already forming in my head and making me drool way before the weekend.


But my, oh my, making lasagna takes sooo long. I've made lasagna using this exact same recipe from allrecipes.com a few years ago, but I failed to remember just how extensive the preparation was. It also took me longer this time because of the picture taking - the wiping of hands, picking up my camera, and being an SLR newbie, I had to take many pictures to ensure that they were decent, then wash hands again, etc. But I gotta say, it was all worth it, the whole 2.5 hours of it! The lasagna turned out delicious! Of course not so great that I'm claiming it to be the World's Best Lasagna (I'm a humble person), that is merely the name of the recipe I used. 



Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounce ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Instructions
  1. Cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. in a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups fo meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.



I bought two different kinds of Mozzarella cheese because two bags
of the same brand was either too little or too much, and buying one of
each turned out perfectly. I wanted to pick up the "oven-ready" lasagna
noodles instead but forgot to look for them at the supermarket; having
those would've lessen the prep work.

I actually skipped the fennel seeds because I hardly see them used
in other recipes, so I thought it wouldn't make a difference anyway
(it only asked for 1/2 teaspoon). If this is the reason my lasagna won't
be the world's best, then so be it!

So after 1 1/2 hours of simmering using low-med heat and
stirring occasionally, my meat sauce is done!

First layer of meat sauce on bottom of baking dish.

The recipe indicated spreading 6 noodles lengthwise over the sauce.
Well, clearly the noodles weren't long enough to cover the whole pan
lengthwise, so I put the 5th one vertically, and added the 6th lasagna
noodle lengthwise by shifting the 4 noodles closer together after
taking this picture.

Ricotta cheese on top of lasagna noodles.

Mozzarella slices on top of Ricotta.

Meat sauce on top of Mozzarella slices.

Parmesan cheese on top of meat sauce. These steps were repeated
until the remaining mozzarella were used up, and then again sprinkled 

with Parmesan cheese on top.

After baking for 25 minutes with foil, it was baked for another 25
minutes without foil (shown above).

After 2 1/2 hours, it is finally done! Oh, but wait, need to cool 15
minutes before serving! Gahhhhhh~

Time to enjoy my gooey lasagna, accompanied by a Caesar salad
made by my boyfriend =)

Although it taste great, it doesn't have the thick and high "layered"
look that I wanted. Any ideas on how I can achieve that next time?

I divided the lasagna into 6 pieces (the above picture is the size of 1 piece). I had 1 piece, my boyfriend had 1 1/2 pieces. We both experienced extreme "lasagnitis" afterwards, and fell asleep in front of the T.V. within half an hour. We are such pigs! 


5 comments:

AC said...

looks D-Licious!!! I LOVE lasagna! I want to try some next time you make it again!!!

Vickie said...

have always like making pasta but never really make a lasagna b4... mainly because of the much longer time needed.... but after seeing ur review, I'm tempted to try =P

The Food Junkie said...

Hehe yeh try it! :) It takes long, but like I said, the level of satisfaction you will get is through the roof afterwards!

Cici said...

I've made lasagna for two before by assembling the lasagna in bread/loaf tins and then baking them when I feel like lasagna. Because my tins are deeper than my lasagna tray, it allowed me to use more noodles per tray thereby making it higher with more layers. Also, I used the Oliveri ready to bake noodles which are thinner and taste almost home-made. Also, don't know if it makes it better, but i mixed some grated parmasan with the ricotta and an egg to bind it all. I think this makes the ricotta layer a little thicker. I'll send you a recipe when I get a chance ;P

The Food Junkie said...

Thanks Cici for your input! The bread/loaf tin idea is awesome since I am sometimes hesitant making such a big pan of lasagna for two people. And like you mentioned, the more noodles, the higher it would be (the recipe i used only had 2 layers of noodles). Yes, please send me your recipe when you get a chance. Thx~ =D

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