This was my first time making lasagna, so I did cut some corners, like buy oven ready pasta and jarred sauce, but it came out good.
I wanted to try a double meat/double cheese thing to try to get more than one flavor so that it wouldn’t just taste like stacked spaghetti, so I bought both ground beef and ground pork as well as ricotta and asiago. Also, as previously mentioned, I got the no-boil lasagna noodles and jarred sauce. I’ve never made my own tomato sauce and I imagine that it would take quite a while. Also, I’m not familiar with as wide a scope of seasonings as I would like, so I figured a premade sauce might taste better.
To start, I cooked the meat. The pork was already seasoned, so I didn’t do anything special to it. But the beef was plain, so I chopped up some onions and garlic and threw them in alng with some basic seasonings like dried basil and pepper–I avoided salt because I figured the cheese would add enough.
There are two ways to go about preparing the onions and beef. If you want them to maintain their texture and crunch, add them at the same time as the beef, but if you want them to disintegrate, then sweat them first with a little olive oil. I left them crunchy. But I think it would have been better to cut them a little smaller than I did, but I forgot about them until after I had started cooking the beef, so I was in a rush to get them cut.
Once the meats are ready, you need to prep them to go on the lasagna. Talking to people, many told me that it would be a good idea to mix the meat with the sauce, to act as a binding agent–otherwise it makes the lasagna unstable and crumbly. But, I had two types of meat. I ended up mixing the beef with the whole jar sauce (if your beef has too much fat, drain it off before this step) and the pork with the ricotta. You can do this either way. And something you can try is actually cooking the meat with the sauce, that way the meat itself picks up the sauces flavor. I didn’t do that, and it came out fine, so don’t feel obligated.
Now it was time to prep the pan. The oven should be preheating at 375. First, I put down a layer of pasta. At first I tried to cover the whole bottom–the pasta didn’t cover the bottom lengthwise, there was about an inch and a half of empty space. but I gave that up after the first layer of filling.
For the first layer of filling I used the ricotta-pork mixture because it seemed like a sturdier base. It was kind of hard to spread, but I bet had it been a little warmer (not microwaved, but sitting on the oven warm) it would have been easier to deal with.
Next, another layer of pasta and on top of that, a layer of the meat sauce. If you remember, I mentioned asiago earlier. This is where it comes in. Sprinkle some on before adding on the next layer of pasta. But not too much because you want to save enough to cover the top at the very end–the last five minutes of baking.
You will probably have more sauce than ricotta, and feel free to fill the empty spaces in your pan with it, that is, if you have any. I ended up with two layers of ricotta and two layers of sauce. Mine looked like this before putting it in the oven.
You’ll notice that I put a last layer of pasta on the top, lightly covered with more sauce. That ended up burning. I don’t know what I could have done to prevent that, but I just peeled it off and the rest of the lasagna was fine. My theory is that I put it on a shelf too high in the oven. Or maybe it was too hot in there.
I baked for 25 minutes at 375 before checking on it.
At that 25 minute mark, I opened the oven, peeled off the burnt pasta with some tongs, and covered it with cheese. Then I let it bake for another 2-3 minutes to get the cheese all melty and delicious. Luckily asiago isn’t too oily.
Once out of the oven, I let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting it. I used my stoneware pan, which is knife proof, so I didn’t have to worry about damaging it. If you’re using a nonstick pan, try a spatula. Good luck with that.
There always has to be a close-up.
It ended up being very structurally sound; it didn’t smoosh out of the sides after being cut and was very easy to handle. I’d have to say it was pretty successful.
Last night I had some friends over to celebrate the release of a new game and to see everyone after being out of town. I tossed together some tasty lasagna because it’s cheap and will feed a lot of people, but I did it a little differently this time.
I used turkey and sage pork this time. Neither was very fatty, so I combined the turkey with the ricotta, and added some chicken broth to make it easier to spread. To the pork and pasta sauce, I added some fresh, raw spinach (frozen would probably work really well too). Then layered and cooked it like usual.