How did lasagna get to be a special occasion food? Think about it: it’s basically just a casserole, right? An incredibly delicious, and wonderfully satisfying casserole that, in my humble opinion, should be in everyone’s heavy rotation.
As with most Italian dishes that I cook, this is my mom’s lasagna, with little tweaks. I haven’t really messed with it much at all, really–except I prefer using “no boil” pasta. Truth in advertising, though: this is not truly lasagna Bolognese–the meat sauce is not really a Bolognese sauce, and there’s not a hint of bechamel sauce to be found in it either. But you know what? The kids love it, it’s easy to fix…and the leftovers are yummy too!
1 lb ground chuck
1 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed
2 eggs, hard boiled
1 egg, raw
1 teaspoons salt
2 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese
1 lb whole milk, low moisture mozzarella cheese
1 box (9 oz) “no boil” lasagna pasta
~24 oz. homemade red sauce
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
Get your sauce going–sorry, no recipe for this part. Make it simple, though–garlic, salt, basil. While your sauce is cooking, season and brown the ground beef and sausage meat in a frying pan. Go ahead and prep the rest of your dish at this point as well: grate the mozzarella; add the raw egg and the salt to the ricotta cheese and combine; peel and crush the hard boiled eggs.
Once the meat is browned, drain (most of) the oil and add around two cups of the red sauce. You want the meat moistened through, but not soupy. Keep at a simmer for another 5-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat.
You are now ready to assemble. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9″x13″ glass casserole with several tablespoons of red sauce. Lay down a single layer of lasagna noodles. Next layer the meat sauce–use about half. Next add a layer of the crumbled hard boiled egg. Next, spoon in about half of the ricotta. Finally, layer half of the mozzarella. Add a few dabs of red sauce, and then lay down a second layer of lasagna noodles. Repeat all of the above: meat sauce, egg, ricotta, mozzarella, and dabs of red sauce. Place a final layer of lasagna pasta over the top and cover with a layer of red sauce–at least 4 oz, but no more than a cup.
Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour (everything should be bubbling along nicely by that point). Remove the foil and bake for another five minutes, making sure the top does not start to crisp or brown.
Remove from the oven and let the lasagna rest for another five or ten minutes. Just before serving, grate Parmesan cheese over the top.
That should do it. Oh, and in case you’re wondering: why the hard boiled egg? I am not sure where my mother picked this up, but that is her trick to keep the lasagna from getting too runny. The egg disappears as both taste and texture in the dish, but it does help to bind everything together by absorbing flavors from both the meat sauce and the cheese.
And for the record: hands down, lasagna is Josh’s all time favorite leftover!