This is the ultimate feel good meal plus leftovers for DAYS.
As lasagne is a bit time consuming, you can prepare the whole meal ahead of time, refrigerate, and pop into the oven the next day, which is what I decided to do.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Handful of baby carrots, finely chopped (I don’t LOVE carrots in my meat sauce so I decided to dial this down a bit)
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds ground bison (but veal and beef work just as well)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk
Besides a bit of
manual labor chopping, this sauce is straightforward and simple. The bison meat (sorry Bucknell) is my own twist on things. Bison meat is leaner than beef with a 3-ounce bison burger containing only 7 grams of fat compared to the traditional beef burger’s 17 grams. Additional fun fact, it’s illegal to use growth hormones in bison. Read more on the benefits here.
Heat your oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add your onion and garlic. Allow the vegetables to cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Follow with your carrots, celery, and parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add your ground meat and stir until well mixed.
Once meat starts to brown, around 10 minutes, add tomatoes. After your tomatoes begin to simmer, add tomato paste and butter. Follow with a few pinches of salt and more freshly ground pepper. Stir frequently for about two minutes.
You’re almost finished! Just add milk and gently whisk. Now, reduce heat to low and leave your pot to simmer. Stir occasionally and cook until sauce is very thick, about an hour and a half.
On to the béchamel sauce. Don’t freak out, béchamel contains a whole lot of butter. BUT, if you think about it, this is spread out through a 12 serving lasagne. Voilà. My kind of logic.
Béchamel Sauce (makes 4 cups)
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- 4 cups of warm whole milk
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan until foaming over medium heat. Add your flour, reduce your heat, and stir. (Julia Child suggests using a wooden spoon.) Stir until smooth but don’t let this mixture turn more than a buttery yellow color, about 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in milk. Add bay leaves and cook until just thickened, stirring often.
After about 10 minutes, your béchamel is almost complete! Stir in your nutmeg and salt and don’t forget to remove your bay leaf. Leave your sauce to cool for a few minutes as you gather your ingredient to begin the lasagne layering process.
- 10 cups ragu alla bolognese
- 1 (9-ounce) box no-boil lasagne noodles
- 12 ounces mild provolone cheese, very thinly sliced
- 4 cups
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Spread a thin layer of bolognese sauce, about 2 cups, over the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
Build your lasagne by layering 4 noodles over the sauce. Top with another 2 cups Bolognese sauce and spread it evenly to the edges of the dish. Cover with about 6 slices of provolone cheese.
Spread 1 cup of the béchamel sauce in a thin layer and top with 1/4 cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Layer the next set of noodles perpendicular to the direction of the first layer and top with another layer of filling (bolognese + provolone + béchamel + parmesan).
Repeat 2 more times, being sure to place each layer of lasagne noodles perpendicular to the previous layer.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Either place in the fridge to store over night or pop into your oven.
When you’re ready, place your lasagne on the center rack of the your 375°F oven. Allow your lasagne to bake for 40 minutes. Now the next step is crucial for a crispy, deliciously crusted top. Remove the foil and continue baking until the edges and top are brown, about 20 minutes more.
I know you are just dying to dig in but allow your decadent dish to cool for 20-30 minutes before slicing.
And for the wine paring, I enjoyed my lasagna with a 2010 Tikal Patriota, a gift from my mother, the original wine enthusiast in the family. This is a bonarda / malbec blend with a beautiful inky purple hue.
Loaded with notes of dark fruit, tobacco and oak, Tikal Patriota feels smooth on the pallet but still has the muscle of a typical malbec. This wine definitely has the power to cut through the natural acidity of your tomato based lasagna while at the same time complementing the creaminess of the béchamel.