Sunday, November 20, 2011
I am so far behind on posting some of the wonderful dishes we've tried. Then, we went and had a dinner party and tried a bunch of new dishes. And, all of them were wonderful. That's on top of the party food testing I did last weekend at Donna and Phil's. And, the new dishes I tried last week. And, the 30 or so recipes I've got on the list to blog about. And, the new recipes I've got on the menu to try this week. How to choose knowing there just isn't enough time to blog about everything and get my house ready for the Girls Night Out Crew on December 2nd. Oh, and work so I can afford to buy the food and have a house to cook in! Well, the long and short of it is that this recipe was so good that you need to hear about it.
Many years ago when Connie and I first met, we bought Colts tickets. That's still before their glory days. And, well before their total meltdown this year. Nonetheless, we love our Colts. Now, we were lucky enough to be seated by some really wonderful folks. When the new stadium was built, all of us requested to be seated together again. Two of our game neighbors - Brenda and Janet - became really good friends. And over the years their good friends - Roy and Nancy, who live across the street from them - have become good friends of ours also. Long story short, the four of them came over for dinner. We'd plotted and planned this over a burger and beer at the Lockerbie Pub after a game. Nobody in the group is very picky so I could have as much fun as I wanted with the menu. Then, I read Fine Cooking and couldn't get the lasagna with homemade noodles out of my head. Ditto the gingerbread trifle. The menu was set!
Let's start with the total menu:
Atlantica parmesan and asiago crab dip
Lasagna with homemade lasagna noodles
Casa d'Angelo salad
Ciabatta rolls with compound herb butter
Gingerbread brandy trifle
What did we think? I've made homemade pasta for years. Connie bought me a pasta roller set for my Kitchen Aid years ago. And, I've used the heck out of it. The cutters are set for linguine and spaghetti. It never occurred to me to make lasagna with the dough. Until I read the article in the Dec, 2011 Fine Cooking. Eureka! That sounds great and easy. And, none of these guys would care that I was covered with flour and the kitchen was a mell of a hess. Everyone was most intrigued by the process of making the dough and putting it through the roller. The biggest question was when do you know it's ready? My answer was pretty vague - it just feels right. It has to have the right smoothness and elasticity. And, it shouldn't be tacky. The recipe in Fine Cooking was a bit different from the one that came with the roller and cutter set. Fine Cooking called for starting with 2 1/2 c of flour and adding more as you knead it. My Kitchen Aid book called for 3 1/2 c. I started with 3 cups and added more as I put the dough through the rollers. The FC recipe also called for five layers of pasta. I'm certain I didn't roll it as thin as I should have because I wound up with enough pasta for three layers. And, only two would fit in the 9x13 pan I had out. None of that really mattered. The lasagna was wonderful. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it with store-bought noodles again. The sauce was super easy to make and was perfect with all the cheeses. All in all it was a total success!
For the pasta:
3 c all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1/2 t salt
For the sauce:
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, smashed
2 - 28 oz cans whole plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T kosher salt
6 large basil leaves, torn by hand into 1/2" pieces
To assemble the lasagna:
1 lb sausage, browned and drained
2 c whole milk ricotta (I used skim)
2 1/2 c shredded mozzarella
2 c grated fresh fontina
1 c grated fresh Parmesan Reggiano
3/4 c grated fresh Parmesan Reggiano
About two and a half hours before you plan to serve the lasagna, you need to start the sauce. First you saute the garlic cloves in the olive oil using a large saucepan. The recipe calls for removing the garlic. I used finely minced cloves and left it in. In my world there's rarely a thing known as too much garlic. Then, dump the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and salt in. I crushed the tomatoes as I poured them in. The recipe doesn't call for doing that. Simmer the sauce for 45 minutes. Once the tomatoes have really broken down, whisk the sauce vigorously. Tear the basil and add it. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.
Next, you need to get the cheeses ready for the assembly. Grate the mozzarella (or cheat and buy it already grated like I did...) Grate the fontina and the Parmesan. Combine all three cheeses in a bowl. Grate the other 3/4 c of Parmesan and set it aside for topping.
Next it's time to make the pasta. Using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, put your flour, eggs and salt in the mixing bowl. Use the flat beater and beat for 30 seconds on speed 2. Switch out the flat beater for the dough hook and beat the dough for an additional two minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it by hand for 1-2 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes before rolling it out. Divide the dough into quarters to roll it. You'll want your strips to be about 1/6" thick when you're done. Lay the rolled dough strips on a floured surface - preferably parchment paper or your kitchen counter. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta for about 30 seconds. Drain the pasta in a colander and put under cold running water.
To assemble the lasagna. Put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl and pour the tomato sauce over it. Mix it well. Put about a half cup of sauce in the bottom of your lasagna pan. You want it to just coat the pan. Lay a layer of pasta over the sauce. Trim the ends to fit.
Sprinkle half the sausage over the pasta, followed by half of the cheese mixture then half of the sauce. Add the 2nd layer of pasta. Repeat the sausage, cheese and sauce. Top with the 3/4 c grated Parmesan. Bake for an hour at 350. Allow the lasagna to sit for 20 minutes prior to serving it.
adapted from Fine Cooking and the Kitchen Aide pasta cookbook