A Traditional Lasagne Recipe and dinner with Lucy Lean

October 4, 2011

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Lucy Lean and I met about a year ago over dinner at The Avalon Hotel. I liked her immediately and her energy was infectious.  Then, a few weeks later, I learned that she would by my roommate at Food Blog Camp in Cancun, Mexico.  Lucky me!

While most of us were enjoying the afternoon sun or participating in a cooking demo, Lucy was holed up in our gorgeous suite, writing, talking on the phone to the most impressive chefs, and editing her photos for her new book; Made in America: Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food. Today, finally, after months of anticipation, her book has been released. And to celebrate, Lucy is hosting a virtual dinner party and we are all invited to see whose cooking.

Lucy asked a few of us to share our most favorite American comfort food.  I have so many; Macaroni and Cheese, Shephards Pie, Pasta Carbonara(nothing quite beats ham and eggs), Meatloaf, and Lasagne.  It was hard to choose.  However, after reading her book, it was Lidia Bastianich’s story that inspired me to make my favorite comfort food; traditional lasagne. Growing up, I didn’t like lasagne. It was too heavy.  Then, while in college, I had eaten something marvelous; lasagne with two sauces; a bolognese sauce and a bechamel sauce.  I was in love.  Although it took a while to perfect, this recipe is the one that is most often requested by those that have experienced it. Other recipes in Lucy’s book that I cannot wait to try;  Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s Green Corn Tamales, Andrew Little’s pretzel rolls, and Ludo‘s duck fat fried chicken are all high on my list to test and ultimately eat

What I love most about Lucy’s book is the way she tells her story.  Coupled with her yummy photos, stories about the best chefs in the country, and inspiring recipes, this book is bound be a treasure that we will all embrace for years to come. And, because I am one of the fortunate few to know and love Lucy, I want to share her book with you.  I am offering a giveaway of Lucy’s newly released book to one lucky reader.

How to Enter

You have until Tuesday, October 11th, 12 midnight PST to enter this giveaway. The Winner will be chosen via random.org and will have 2 days to respond or a new winner will be selected. U.S.A. residents only.

You can enter multiple times by leaving a separate comment for each of the following steps listed below:

• tell me what your favorite comfort food is….or what you would make if you had this book.
• go to Lucy’s facebook page and become her friend.
• go to The Urban Baker’s facebook page and become my friend
• tweet about this giveaway. make up one of your own or tweet this sample message: pls RT @theurbanbaker has a copy of @LucyLean book #giveaway. Comfort food at its best. http://is.gd/gfKzLg
• follow @therubanbaker on Twitter
• follow Lucy Lean on Twitter
• sign up for my RSS feeds and receive my blog posts each week
• Stumble this post and follow me (and see who I follow) @theurbanbaker on StumbleUpon.

Good Luck!!

10/12/11
Congratulations to Sara of Pao e Queijo Blog – she’s the winner!

Traditional Northern Italian Lasagne Recipe
yield: 2 9″x 13″ pans of lasagne (I like to freeze one, uncooked)
I use all whole, organic ingredients

ingredients:
lasagne noodles
fresh, grated parmesan cheese(about 1 1/2 cups)

bolognese sauce
2 onions, cut in quarters
2 medium carrots, rough chopped
2 celery stalks, rough chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 Tbsp. butter
20 oz. ground veal, preferebly organic and grass fed
2/3 cup white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. grated, fresh nutmeg
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

bechamel sauce
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
pinch of nutmeg
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

instructions:
for the bolognese sauce:
• in the workbowl of cuisinart fitted with the metal blade, pulse the onions until they are diced very small.  transfer to a medium sized bowl.  in the same workbowl, pulse the carrots and the celery.  add to the onions. set aside.
• in a heavy duty stock pot, melt the butter.  add the veal and cook and until it loses it pink color.  I like to break it up with the back of a wooden spoon, which helps in the cooking process.
• add the vegetables and cook until they begin to get soft, about 8 minutes, stirring occassionally.
• turn the fire up to high and add the wine, deglazing the bottom of the pan. when it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
• add the heavy cream and the nutmeg(I grate the nutmeg directly into the pot).  let this thicken, about 7 minutes.
• add the crushed tomatoes, stir all the contents until well combined.
• cover and simmer for 2 hours.  stirring occassionally to avoid burning the bottom.
• when the 2 hours is up add salt and pepper to taste.
for the bechamel sauce:
• melt the butter in a heavy duty sauce pan over low heat.
• when the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk for about 1 minute to combine.  you want to slightly cook the flour but you don’t want to burn it.
• gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
• reduce heat and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
• simmer for 2o minutes or until the sauce thickens. you want to be able to dollop it over the noodles, not pour it.
assembly:
• if using noodles that require boiling, bring a large stock pot of water to a boil.  add kosher salt.  place noodles in the stock pot and boil for about 6 minutes, stirring so they don’t stick together.  drain noodles and set aside. they will still be somewhat stiff, but a pliable. if using the “no-boil” noodles, take them out of the box.
• butter your baking dish. pour a thin layer of the bolognese sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
• place lasagne noodles on top of the sauce, pressing them down.
• ladle a portion of bolognese sauce over the noodles to cover.  top that with a ladle of the bechamel sauce.  sprinkle a very generous poriton of the grated parmesan over sauces.
• repeat the process two more times.
• when you get to the top layer, pour the bolognese to cover (I use more on the top than I do in the layers) and dollop a bit of the remaining bechemal sauce over that.  cover with lots and lots of cheese.
• loosly fit a piece of foil over your baking dish.  place dish in a pre-heated 400* oven and bake until warmed through, about 20-35 minutes.  remove foil and place lasagne in the broiler for about 3 mintues, or just until the top starts to brown and bubble.
• let sit, covered, for 10 mintues before eating.
• we like to eat this with a caesar salad and baked kale chips. it’s a great weeknight meal for those of us on the go and makes fantastic left overs.

More recipes from Made in America:

Purseland Salad – Georgia Pellegrini
Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Freezer Cookies – Dishing up Delights
American Flag Cake – I am Mommy
Herbed Baked Cheese – Aida Mollenkamp
Crawfish Etouffee – Deliciously Organic