And then there was lasagna
October 2, 2016
I did promise y’all details on lasagna, so here you go:
I’d promised I would cook dinner for a friend who’s recently had a death in the family. I settled on lasagna because, lasagna. Everyone likes it (there are kids involved, an adolescent and a kindergartener), it’s not time-sensitive (you can put it together today and cook it whenever you want), and it’ll feed a horde.
For good measure, I put together a 10 x 13 pan for my friend, and a 7 x 11 pan for us here at the house. Ran out of sauce, too, so I had to improvise, and didn’t get the home version seasoned as well as I’d have liked.
Started out with tomato sauce. Well, actually, I started out making ricotta cheese, because you need that, too, and it’s so dang simple to make. Heat the milk (I used about a quart and a half that was edging toward expiration) with some cream (about a cup, maybe, I didn’t measure) to at least 180 to denature all the milk proteins. Take it off the heat, stir in a third of a cup of vinegar and a teaspoon or so of kosher salt. Go away. Come back in 30 minutes, pour it through a clean dishtowel in a colander, and boom, you’ve got ricotta.
And then I made tomato sauce in the instant pot, because, well, the pot I’d normally make it in was in use for the ricotta. The IP worked well; I sauteed some onion and garlic, then commenced adding tomato products — a quart and a pint of home-canned, a half-pint of tomato sauce, a four-ouncer of tomato paste, and just for good measure, my last pint of marinara from summer before last. Let that come to a boil, switched it over to slow cook, and left it to simmer and cook down while I browned beef and strained the ricotta, and then grated mozzarella and parmigiano.
And then I went to puree the sauce, and discovered my stick blender appears to have taken feet and walked away. I used it not more than a week ago, but it wasn’t in its accustomed spot in the cabinet, nor was it sitting on the cabinet by the sink where I put it to drain after I washed it. I am convinced it’s in plain sight and I just can’t see it. In any event, I blended the sauce in the blender, which works fine but is more trouble, and then you’ve got to wash the damn thing.
And then I commenced layering. Sauce, noodles, beef, ricotta, mozzarella, parmigiano, more sauce, repeat. I think I went four layers on the big pan, three on ours. I use the no-boil noodles; SO much easier, and I can’t tell any difference in the taste or texture. I prefer Barilla, but didn’t see any, so got Kroger brand; they worked just fine.
At that point, I baked ours, and put the friend’s in the fridge, where it’ll repose until she’s ready for it.
Off to Boston in the morning. Hope to be eating lobster for dinner. Will try to keep you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em posted, but I’m not taking the laptop, so this may be it until I get home Thursday. Y’all play nice while I’m gone, OK?