Among the things I could make when I got married; meatloaf, potato salad, spaghetti and meatballs, baked chicken, beef stew, chili and enchiladas. When I had guests coming that hadn’t been recently and I wanted to go all foreign and chic, lasagna🙂 Really. I was such a rube!
The lasagna was always a hit. Why wouldn’t it be with kilos of cheese, sauce, pasta and meat? To gild the lily, I would also make butter soaked garlic bread. We were hungrier in those days and “too much” wasn’t a part of our vocabularies. We always had salad because that is what you served with the lasagna. I don’t know who made that rule but it still applies today🙂
I think obesity began in the 50s when there was plenty of actually good food (non-GM) that we decided wasn’t good enough and added sugar and other bizarre things to it; marshmallows in the sweet potatoes (heave), sweetened tomato sauce (bleah), sweetened evaporated milk as a sauce (gag). I always like to throw in these random rants about the evolution of American food. Okay, I’m done😀
Anyway. Even though France is close to Italy, I don’t think your average French person has tasted real Italian food. Their pizzas, spaghetti bolonaise, eggplant parmesan lack something. Something called garlic, herbs; mainly basil and oregano. Maybe they don’t cook the tomato sauce but just take it out of the can and thinly spread it on the pizza, that is, when there is any tomato sauce. The crusts are funny too.
My idea today was to educate M. Parret. No, I didn’t say that to him, I just said that American Italian food tasted different from the French Italian and that I would make a lasagna to demonstrate. I told him there would be a lot of cheese in it but, you know, cooking with cheese doesn’t really impress Le Parret, he’s a crust of baguette and a chunk of cheese man. Still, he will not soon forget the lasagna. He’s telling all his friends :)
Try not to substitute reduced/low fat ingredients (there’s something sinister about these) in this recipe, it wouldn’t be the same. Have a smaller portion, no bread and 1/2 glass of wine or, even better, splurge for a day. For the noodles, make your own or buy a package of the boiling kind or the non-boiling kind, your choice.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup port
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
3 cups buffalo mozzarella cheese, shredded
Prepared lasagna noodles
Begin to brown the beef in the olive oil, then add the onions, garlic and herbs and continue to cook until the onions are soft. Pour in the port and boil for about 2-3 minutes, then stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour.
Mix the ricotta and 1/2 cup of the parmesan together in a bowl and set aside.
In a large baking pan, coat the bottom with some meat sauce, then place some noodles on top. Layer with the ricotta, mozzarella, more noodles, meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella and the rest of the parmesan.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 F for 50 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes, then slice and serve.