As suprising as it may sound, I didn’t just start this blog because I like to document all the ridiculous food I have eaten and plan to eat in the future. I also like to cook, although I have not gotten to do much of it during the last few months. This past weekend, I finally got a night off work and decided it was a night to cook. I needed to make something filling, and large enough that I could take the leftovers to work for the next couple days. As I walked through Kroger, it became clear that there was only one option that met my criteria:
Lasagna is one of my favorite things to cook because it’s filling, delicious, and almost impossible to screw up. You can pretty much throw anything you want into it, and it will more than likely taste good. You have your basic ingredients which are lasagna noodles, some sort of sauce, cheese and some sort of meat. Cheese lasagna is tasty, but once you throw that meat in there it goes to a whole new level. Besides, if you’re eating noodles and pounds of cheese you’re obviously not counting your carbs or calories. Add some meat into the combination.
The way I like to make my lasagna is pretty simple. Lots of meat, garlic and cheese. I like to use a case of italian sausage and a case of hot breakfast sausage. This gives your filling more of a zest. A lot of people like to use hamburger in their lasagna but I’ve never been a fan. I like my meat to have a bit of spice and hamburger is just kinda bleh to me.
I combine both into a pan on very high heat with 3-4 cloves of minced garlic, basil, and oregano. If you’ve read my recipes before, you know I don’t really like to measure anything. I would probably reccomend a tablespoon of each. I like my flavor.
Sautee the sausage and garlic until it is not quite cooked all the way through. Don’t worry, you’re not going to be eating half cooked sausage. That’s not a secret lasagna trick of mine or anything. Turn the heat down to medium-low and dump a bottle of your favorite pasta sauce in, or if you’re an overachiever you can use fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes. I’ll go with my favorite pasta sauce, which is Bove’s roasted garlic. You may recognize Bove’s from the lasagna Throw Down with Bobby Flay episode. I believe Bobby Flay beat him with some sort of green chili lasagna with mango salsa. Bullshit. Anyways, moving on..
Stir away so you get all of the sausage covered in the sauce. The idea is for the sausage to absorb some of the taste of the sauce while still holding onto that zesty flavor. Once you have the sauce distributed into the bowl, just let it set on medium-low heat until you’re ready to start making the lasagna. Ideally, this should simmer for 20-30 minutes. I suffer from a terrible disease, A.D.D., so this usually turns into only about 10-15 minutes.
After you get all of that done, grab your biggest pot and boil up some water. I don’t usually do this, but add about a tablespoon of oil so your noodles don’t stick together or to the pan. If you have a small pot, I would reccomend laying your noodles around the outside so they outline the edge. Cook those noodles to al-dente, which is a word that I hate because of Giada, and strain away. Be sure to pour cold water over them during straining to stop the cooking process. You don’t want mushy noodles. Consider your pasta to be the foundation of your lasagna. You need something that’s going to hold up to all of the other ingredients. You need them to be a bit firm but not too crunchy.
While you’re waiting for your noodles to boil, you can begin making your cheese mixture that will go in between the noodles and the meat. Mix a large tub of ricotta cheese with a beaten egg, a few handfuls of Romano cheese, red pepper and a bit of basil. You can pretty much throw anything you want in here, as long as it has the ricotta cheese base. I have added spinach and other things in the past, but for this recipe I just kept it basic.
Once your noodles are good to go, it’s time to build. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures during this process, so if your are a visual learner I’m afraid you’re screwed at this point. Grab a pan and line the bottom with a bit of olive oil and a bit of sauce. Your first layer should be the noodles, followed by your ricotta mixture. Add large spoon fulls on top of the noodles and spread it out as best as you can. After the ricotta, spoon your meat on top and gently spread along the top. Try your best not to mix the two togther. The idea is to create layers. Keep this process up until you either run out of ingredients or room in your pan. Ideally, you want at least 2 layers. I like to pour a bit more sauce on top with either Romano or Parmesan cheese.
Pop that baby into the oven on 375 for about 10-20 minutes. Remember, you’re cooking raw eggs in here so you’re not just melting the cheese. This needs to be cooked all the way through. This isn’t a huge concern to me, but you might want to consider that if you’re feeding this to other people. I fed some of this to my parents, so I made sure to cook it all the way through. If I made my angel of a mother sick I just don’t know what I would do. I also like to turn the broiler on for a minute or two just to give the cheese on top a little bit of brown.
Once this is cooked, your house should be smelling pretty delicious. If you ask me, this is just straight food pornography. Your final product should look a bit like this: