Bolognese Sauce

This recipe is from the chef, Tyler Florence. We use the liquid from the reconstituted mushrooms which he discards. I like ours but either way it is delicious. Don't prepare this recipe if you just came home from work and you want something for supper. Plan on an afternoon. Stick in a good movie in your DVD and when it is over , you will be finished. Print out 2 copies because invariably you will spill something....I do.

It is especially good over a thick al-dente spaghetti covered with shaved grana padano cheese and chopped basil leaves; don't forget to save 7 or 8 cups of the sauce if you plan to make the lasagna.(Recipe Below)

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 lb pancetta or slab bacon , finely chopped

1 med. onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from the stem

2 fresh oregano sprigs, leaves stripped from the stem

1 fresh rosemary sprig, needles stripped from the sprig

2 bay leaves

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1 cup milk

1 ( 28 ounce ) can whole peeled tomatoes , hand crushed, prefer San Marzano brand

2 cups dry red wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Reconstitute the mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water until tender. Save the liquid and strain to remove any gritty particles. Coarsely chop.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan , heat the olive oil over medium flame.Add the pancetta and saute over medium heat to render out the fat.Add the porcinis, onion ,celery, carrots and garlic, stirring to combine. Toss in the thyme, oregano, rosemary and bay leaves . Cook for 5 to 10 minutes , stirring, until the vegetables are very tender but not browned.

Raise the heat a bit and add the ground beef and pork , brown until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon.Add the milk and simmer until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 to 20 minutes. Carefully pour in the tomatoes, wine and saved mushroom liquid; season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Slowly simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring now and then until the sauce is very thick . Taste again for salt and pepper.Take a rest and sit down with the wine from the bottle that wasn't used in the recipe.
Bolognese Sauce Ingredients. If you feel ambitious you can proceed to home-made ricotta and lasagna recipes. If this is your first try I would start with just the bolognese sauce

4 cups whole milk 2 cups heavy cream 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.
Bolognese Lasagna
See Bolognese Sauce and Home Made Ricotta recipes before starting this recipe.

I find that adjusting a recipe for lasagna to make one that is smaller , doesn't work too well. It's OK but the best one is the usual 9 x 13 x 3 in disposable aluminum baking pan...or if you don't mind the clean-up, in your own baking dish.
This recipe is from Lidia's Italy In America. We have been making it this way for years but she adds heavy cream to the ricotta and we didn't. ( Not for dietary reasons). Can you imagine what we would look like now if my mother used the heavy cream and we kept up the tradition? In any event , don't leave it out , it adds too much to the final product.
When you buy the lasagna noodles , look carefully at the thickness. Barilla makes thin noodles and most others make the thick. If you use the thin , you will get more in a pound and have some left over. I like the thin but use either.
If you don't have a cheese slicer for the mozzarella , use dental floss.
It is a good idea to read the whole recipe before starting....for example, the reason for the extending of the noodles over the long edges of the pan.

OK , let's get started:

Kosher salt
7 to 8 cups bolognese sauce ( see recipe in Kitchen )
28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes , preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand.
1 3/4 cups fresh ricotta , drained( see Home Made Ricotta Recipe )
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 boxes lasagna
1 1/2 lbs fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced.
1 1/2 cups grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Warm the Bolognese in a pot, pour in the crushed tomatoes , and simmer together while the pasta cooks. Stir together the ricotta, cream and basil in a bowl.
When the water is boiling, slip in the lasagna and cook until just al-dente, several minutes less than the cooking time on the package. ( Don't crowd the noodles in the pot or they will stick; boil in batches if necessary).Remove the lasagna to a large bowl or roasting pan filled with with ice-water to stop the cooking process. Drain the lasagna and lay the strips on damp kitchen towels , in layers on a baking sheet. .
Spread 1/2 cup bolognese in a thin layer in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 3 inch baking dish ( disposable aluminum lasagna pan ) . Make one layer of the lasagna noodles so they extend over the long edges of the pan and meet in the middle , covering the sauce completely. Spread half of the ricotta mixture on top , and top with a layer of 2 cups bolognese.
Add another layer of noodles , perpendicular to the first layer. You no longer need to overlap the sides , so trim the noodles to fit just the bottom of the pan.Spread 1 1/2 cups bolognese , half the sliced mozzarella and the remaining ricotta mixture on top.
Make another layer of lasagna noodles , parallel to the last layer , then cover with 1 1/2 cups bolognese and the remaining mozzarella , and sprinkle with 1/2 c;up of the grated cheese.
Add a final layer of lasagna noodles . Cover with one cup sauce , and sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese. Flip over the noodles from the edges of the pan to encase the last layer , and spread with the remaing sauce , which should be about one cup. Sprinkle with the remaing grated cheese.
Tent the lasagna dish with foil , and bake until bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover , and bake until the top is browned and crusty , about 15 to 20 minutes more. Let the lasagna rest at least 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

Mangiare bene e bere del vino Chianti Classico