if you are my grandparents and you are reading this blog i apologize in advance for the swearing

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

tell it to me like i'm five - a recipe for veal lasagna

the owners of the yacht i am currently on just had two couples visit for about a week. they were the loveliest people. really personable, funny, approachable, and just good folk. the husbands of each couple both fell in love with this lasagna  i made for them. i don't know how or why as from my angle i was just trying to put something together with the limited resources i had (frozen spinach and minced veal?  of course). They then asked for the recipe. ummmmmmm ...what recipe? my cooking doesn't really have rules or guidelines. Needless to say  they were so lovely that i tried to write it out for them. So here it is for you. I was also informed that they had never made a normal lasagna so tried to make it as clear as possible for them - hence the title Tell it TO Me Like I'm 5. which incidentally will be the name of the cookbook that i will probably never get around to writing. so there it is after the break. too big to have here and also since i don't have a picture of it, or the ingredients i have included a picture of Scoobs. He is a bichon frise from ireland that i trained when his owners didn't have time or enough experience to do it themselves. he was my sidekick for months. i am not the small fluffy dog type at all but he totally won me over. love him so much.
those are the fangs that ripped through my nostril, gave
me septicemia and a scar for life. we were playing.
puppy teeth are new and sharp

veal lasagna

There are four layers in this lasagne so the best approach is probably to cook the individual components and then build from there. There is a Mornay/Becahamel Sauce, a veal mince sauce, a spinach layer and a ricotta layer.

Béchamel or Mornay Sauce

500 ml of milk (full fat)
Few slices of carrot
Few slices of onion
Sprigs of parsley
Salt and pepper
2 – 3 oz of Roux
Handful of grated parmesan

Put milk in a sauce pan with the veg and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for approx ten minutes to infuse the flavours of the veg. Strain veg and return to heat. Bring back to a gentle boil and whisk in the roux until you reach desired consistency. You want the sauce to be quite thick. If you whisk the roux in before the milk is bubbling the roux will just clump. Make sure there are bubbles before you add it in. Turn off heat and stir in finely grated parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Veal Sauce

½ kg veal mince
Large can of whole plum tomatoes
Small can plum tomatoes
250 ml white wine.
1 chicken stock cube
I large onion
3 cloves pressed garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste

Dice the onions and garlic finely. Sweat the onions and garlic on a very low heat with a lid on the pot. It should be low enough heat that they won’t stick but stir occasionally anyway. Turn the heat up to med-high and add the mince. Stir often until meat is browned off. Add the tomatoes. If you use whole tomatoes versus concasse chop them up inside the can before you add them, they will continue to break down when they cook. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Now turn the heat down to a simmer and reduce until you have a nearly dry ragout. Stir frequently as this will catch on the bottom. Good idea to use a splatter guard too. If you are unsure whether it is reduced enough or not take pot off the heat and let it cool. You want to be able to spoon this layer in and almost spread it like a paste. Check for seasoning at the end and adjust if necessary.

Spinach Layer

2 pressed garlic cloves
8 c. baby spinach
Couple tbsp of water

In a saucepan or high sided saucepan put in your water then garlic and then spinach. Over a medium heat wilt the spinach. If you have tongs turn the spinach over so it wilts evenly. When it is wilted there should be a fair amount of liquid in the pan. Strain the spinach in a sieve or a colander with fairly small holes. Press the spinach until you get as much liquid out as possible. Use your hand to squeeze or the back of a spoon to really press hard. After this take the spinach and chop it finely.

Ricotta Layer

2 tubs of ricotta

This is the easiest part. Open the two tubs and voila! That is all. Now you are ready to assemble!

I used fresh lasagne sheets but you can use fresh or dry and there is no need to blanch (that is a total myth and a time consuming unnecessary step!). First smear a little sauce, béchamel or veal on the bottom of the pan you are using. Just the bare minimum though to prevent the pasta from sticking. Add a layer of pasta then a layer of veal sauce topped with béchamel and then another pasta layer. Follow this with a layer of the spinach topped with ricotta. Layer in this order and repeat until you’ve used everything up although you want to reserve a small amount of béchamel to finish it off. Your last layer should be one of pasta topped with béchamel. Then top this off with a cheese of your choice. It doesn’t really matter what kind although sharp is complimentary like parmesan or Manchego. I for example, had a bit of parmesan I wanted to use up and also some buffalo mozzarella. So it’s really up to you. I think gruyere or ementhal would be awesome.

After you have assembled you can, at this point, freeze it (after it is cool), cook it and freeze it or cook it and eat it. You can also leave it in the fridge for up to three days before cooking.  I would cook it at 180 degrees conventional heat. Every oven is different though so you will know yourself what a moderate temperature is. Aim for approximately 45 min but check occasionally. If the top browns before you have had enough time to let the middle cook just cover it with some foil, reduce by ten degrees and carry on cooking. When you are finished let it rest about ten minutes before cutting so that it can set a little bit.

The end!

 In case you don’t have Roux here is the recipe. It will keep in the fridge for ages and is handy to have on hand as a thickener. If you store it in the fridge and need to use it quickly, when it is hard – a cheese grater is a handy way to get at it rather than hacking off big lumps.

4 oz butter
4 oz flour

Melt butter on a low heat and add flour. Stir and cook for approx 3 minutes and you are good to go. It is easier to use in this warm state as you can spoon it in but as I said above it will keep for yonks. 


Mynx said...

sounds wonderful.

Ali B said...

thank you Mynx! It really wasn't that impressive but you never know what people are going to like.

gillian.wood said...

are you sure about using any old dried noodles straight up? they now have pre-cooked ones that I don't like but I've never dared use dried right out of the box. Lasagne is such a lot of work I hate to take risks.