On this Blog, we talk food, sports and other things. I am a foodie. One of my great hobbies is cooking, a tradition in which I have engaged from the days when I used to sit and roll gnocchi’s for hours with my grandmother. I will reveal simple some simple kitchen secrets, some recipes and how any guy with seven thumbs can still create a great meal for his family.
FOLLOW “MIKEMISS: The Every Day Cook” on Twitter @MikeMissV
Welcome to the Cooking Blog of “Mikemiss: The Every Day Cook”: One thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that most folks, especially guys, and especially guy sports fans, find cooking to be a chore. It’s not. If you put a little bit of time and effort into learning to cook, or just put in the effort of following a printed recipe, you can create kitchen masterpieces. Think of it like a plant. You pot it. You water it. You fertilize it. And the result is a beautiful flower you can admire. With food, the reward is the taste.
Periodically in this space, I will be posting some recipes and videos that will show you how to make a fabulous meal. Today, I will provide the steps for your to make a wonderful Sunday or holiday dish of lasagna, an Italian food favorite. My recipe has been cultivated over the years from watching my Italian relatives cook in their home kitchens. But you may provide your own little twists.
So let’s get started…
- SAUCE (OR GRAVY): The staple of any lasagna is a great red tomato sauce or gravy, depending on what it was called in your house. Most people have their own recipes for their sauce. I use a good tomato puree as my base, a 28 oz can poured on top of some sizzled garlic and fresh basil in olive oil, then a can of water, then a touch of red wine, and then some tomato paste as a thickener. But the flavor of this sauce is enhanced by a combination of meatballs and sausage, which have been browned on a skillet and once browned, allowed to slowly cook in the sauce. I usually stew my sauce or gravy, with the meat, for about 3 hours, at a lower burner temperature. Probably everyone out there has their own recipe for meatballs. I use ground beef, mixed with salt, pepper, an egg, some moist bread, some fresh parsley, and sprinkled grated, romano cheese.
- NOODLES: It is perfectly fine to use boxed lasagna noodles for your lasagna. San Giorgio, Ronzoni or DiCicco brands are fine because they are processed with ridges, which provide a nice airy feel once placed down in your lasagna pan. That allows for a nice heat transfer through the lasagna when baking. However, fresh lasagna noodles also may be used. You may fancy making your own homemade pasta to use as your lasagna noodles. Or, you can purchase fresh lasagna noodles in your favorite Italian specialty store. Be aware that the fresher noodles will cook more delicately than the boxed and your lasagna may come out a little too soft. If you are using the boxed pasta, follow the instructions on the box for al dente. I usually take the noodles off the burner at the al dente time, run some cold water into the pot, and leave the noodles there until I’m ready to assemble the lasagna.
- CHEESE MIXTURE: The cheese for a lasagna is a mixture of ricotta (2 lbs), grated mozzarella (8 oz), grated pecorino romano cheese (1 cup), 2 eggs, chopped fresh parsley, touch of garlic power (optional).
- THE MEAT: This is an arduous process, but well worth the time. Remove the meatballs and sausage from your cooked sauce (3 hours, remember), and set aside. Then, slice the meatballs and sausage into round pieces.
- ASSEMBLING THE LASAGNA: From here, it’s easy. The lasagna will be three layers. First, cover the bottom of your lasagna pan or glass Pyrex dish with a little bit of sauce (so the bottom noodles won’t stick to the pan). Then, layer on top of that sauce three cooked noodles. Next, layer with a large spoon the cheese mixture until the noodles are all covered. Next, layer the meat over the cheese. Next, ladle some sauce across the meat, then sprinkle the romano cheese over the sauce. Repeat the process with noodles, ricotta mixture, meat, sauce and romano cheese.
- TOP LAYER: Once you top off the lasagna with the final three strips of noodles, sauce up the top to cover the noodles (that will keep them from drying out once you bake it), then sprinkle more romano cheese across the top.
- BAKE IT: Pre-heat an oven to 325 degree and cook uncovered for about 1 hour. Once the lasagna is baked, let it set for about 15 minutes or so to congeal.
Cut into the lasagna with a spatula to make small squares and then go to town. You will love it! And please tell me how it came out for you.
Write me with any questions or comments at: [email protected]