Lasagne Bolognese

Pop quiz: what are the main ingredients in lasagne?

If you said marinara, ricotta, and noodles, you’d be 2/3 wrong.

At least in the case of this authentic Bolognese lasagne, where noodles are the only thing in common with the Americanized stereotype. This lasagne has, instead, a rich and meaty ragù sandwiched between layers of homemade noodles, fresh grated parmesan, and a creamy béchamel sauce. The end result is as smooth and creamy as it is rich and hearty, with no funky ricotta texture. The top layer of béchamel and parmesan bakes to a golden brown, finishing the dish with an almost pizza-like finesse. It is satisfying through and through.

Lasagne Bolognese

And since we were going all out with this one anyway… homemade noodles. The kind of noodles that are so tender they practically melt in your mouth. No tough lasagne noodles here. For what it’s worth, we recalled (after the fact) that the noodles in the original version were green. Spinach or pesto, I believe. But other than the hue of the pasta, I think we nailed it.

Lasagne Bolognese

Our neighbor (who so kindly helped us make a dent in a dish that was clearly too much for two people, even two people and leftovers), declared this the best lasagne ever. Heck, Taylor and I declared it the 2nd best lasagne ever (demoted to second only because we weren’t actually in Bologna while eating it).

If we made this again, we’d probably halve the recipe out of practicality. The ragù also has a tendency to thicken incredibly, we’d try to thin it out a bit with some additional wine or broth, to make assembly easier. This lasagne isn’t an every day meal, nor is it for the faint of heart. Two pounds of meat and pancetta? An entire quart of whole milk? Indulgence indeed.

Lasagne Bolognese

Makes 6-8 servings. Recipe from Mario Batali.


Ingredients:

Ragù:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

4 stalks celery, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 pound veal or beef, ground

1 pound pork, ground

4 ounces pancetta, ground

1 8-ounce can tomato paste

1 cup milk

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Béchamel:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Lasagna:

3/4 to 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, about 7 by 4 inches, or dried lasagne noodles blanched for 6 minutes and refreshed

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Oil for brushing


Directions:

Ragù: In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sweat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are translucent. Add veal, pork, and pancetta to the vegetables, and brown over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together. Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, thyme, and 1 cup water, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 11/2 hours (if the ragù becomes too thick, add a little more water). Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.


Béchamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour, and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture turns golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.


Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until it is just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture, 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until the sauce is very smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and season with salt and nutmeg.


Assembly: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with melted butter or oil, and layer in the following order from the bottom: ragù, pasta, béchamel, and grated cheese (saving about 1 cup béchamel for last topping), making 3 to 4 layers of pasta, finishing with ragù, béchamel, and 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled over the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 20 minutes, slice, and serve.


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19 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. That weird layer of ricotta cheese in American lasagna has always freaked me out. Since yours doesn’t have that, I’m ready to test it out. Plus if it is almost as good as the Italian version, then I’m in!

  2. Interested in trying this;could you post your homemade pasta instructions, too?

  3. That might be the prettiest photo of lasagna I’ve ever seen!

  4. yum!!!!

    I’ve never been to italy, but when I was living in england the dish was more similar to this. It had to creamy sauce instead of ricotta, i’m a huge fan

  5. The pasta is green from spinach. I’m pretty sure you’d taste it if it was pesto, but either way, spinach is a common ingredient in homemade pasta. I actually always add it to mine, because I can’t taste it anyway, so if it looks pretty and it adds a whole bunch of spinach to my meal, why not?

    I’ve made authentic Bolognese lasagne before, and…I find that I’m American. I desire mozzarella. Maybe my preferences will change once I get a chance to go to Italy?

  6. Wish you had waited until we arrive to make this in Nashville!

  7. This looks like the lasagne we had in a restaurant in Orvieto (unfortunately the week before you came). It was the best ever, but now I’ll try yours.
    Can’t wait to see part III and IV of your adventure.

  8. Lasagne is always a backup plan for family occasions and I never seem to follow a recipe. It’s one of those dishes that has whatever is available thrown in it, albeit that the base is always ground beef, tomato paste, wine and spices. I often add mushrooms and bell peppers too. Yours looks and sounds fabulous.
    :-) Mandy

  9. that`s one of my favourite dishes! so delicious

    have a nice time,
    Paula

  10. It looks very lovely. One day I decided to do lasagna the most difficult way I could and I ended up spending four hours making spinach lasagne pasta and bechemel end such. It was summer, however, so rather than desire something heavy, I wanted something summery, so I went with fresh tomatoes and onions and, yes, ricotta (mixed with spinach) and fresh mozzarella (no marinara though)… there’s something oddly satisfying about going all out for a dish isn’t it?

  11. Yum yum yum.

    What are the measurements for the fresh pasta ingredients here?

  12. I don’t like ricotta or cottage cheese in lasagne at all. I absolutely love the béchamel version, though. I have made a similar dish, and it was unforgettable. I love the photo of the flour and egg. Homemade pasta is the best.

  13. Your lasagna looks like something otu of a restaurant!!! and I lurveee the pic of the egg on flour!!

  14. This looks fantastic! I prefer this over the ricotta version any day.

  15. yum !! it’s my favorit dishe, with many many tomato sauce, it’s just delicious

  16. I love your posts about Italy. I’m reliving my time there vicariously through you. The best meal I had there was lasagne bolognese.

  17. This recipe is amazing, thank you for posting it!

    I made it this weekend for 16 people (tripled the recipe) and it turned out fantastic! everyone said this was the best lasagne they had ever eaten, it earned me countless compliments.

    The only alterations I made were that I prepared the pasta sheets myself and did not use pancetta, and it turned out incredible!

    Thank you once more! :-)

  18. Yum…I was living in Bologna for six months and the lasagna bolognese was one of my favs! I love how the Bolognese completely embrace the fattiness of their dishes– I’m always completely stuffed after eating their lasagna! Must be the beschamel! Can’t wait to try the recipe!

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