Jess' Famous Christmas Lasagna

Jess' Famous Christmas Lasagna

This is not my grandmother's recipe, but I think she would like it better. I'm not exaggerating when I say my lasagna is famous. My nearest and dearest request I make it every Christmas. I love making it to freeze and give to friends who are expecting a baby or going through a tough time. 

Like Palermo, this lasagna is richly Italian and made with only the finest ingredients. It takes time—I mean it, hours of cooking—but it is worth every single second!

It’s perfect for a New Year’s main dish that’ll blow away your friends and family, or a weekend meal prep that will give you plenty of leftovers. This recipe is truly one of my favorites and I am so excited to share it with you. Please send pictures if you make it yourself!

Ciao,

 

BOLOGNESE

4-5 cups of your favorite homemade tomato sauce
1 lb. ground pork
2 lb. ground beef chuck (20% fat)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
8 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste

BÉCHAMEL 

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Parmigiano, coarsely grated (plus about 1 cup for filling)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

MISC.
3 boxes dried lasagna noodles (must be Barilla’s Oven Ready no bake lasagna noodles)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil 
15oz fresh ricotta 
8oz fresh mascarpone 
2 eggs
24oz fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped (about 4 balls)

 

BOLOGNESE

  1. Mix pork and beef with your hands in a large bowl; season generously with salt and pepper, then mix again. 
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add meat and cook until browned. Remove from pot and set aside.
  3. Add more oil if needed. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  4. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste darkens.
  5. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly completely evaporated.
  6. Add homemade tomato sauce, and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by about half.
  7. Add chicken broth and milk and return the ground meat to the pot.
  8. Bring to a simmer then cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and reduce.

 

BÉCHAMEL

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until flour begins to smell a bit nutty. 
  3. Quickly whisk in milk and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until béchamel thickens.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking occasionally, until smooth and velvety. This takes roughly 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in Parmigiano, cayenne, and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.

CHEESE FILLING

  1. Mix ricotta and mascarpone together in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste then whisk in egg until mixture is smooth. Tip: Allow the mascarpone to come to room temp so it mixes easily with the ricotta.
  2. Slice the mozzarella then either chop or tear by hand into dime size pieces, set aside in a bowl.


ASSEMBLY

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. 
  2. Lightly butter a 13x9" glass or ceramic baking dish.
  3. Spread about 1 cup of bolognese in the dish. Tip: It is crucial you begin with a layer of sauce on the bottom otherwise the bottom layer will burn.
  4. Layer each subsequent ingredient in the following order spreading evenly and repeating until the dish is full. 
    1. Lay a single layer of pasta over sauce (you will need to break some of the pasta in half in order to cover the whole dish.
    2. Spoon 5-6 dollops of ricotta mixture on the pasta and spread evenly with an offset spatula. 
    3. Follow with about a cup of bolognese
    4. Sprinkle  about 3/4 cup  mozzarella evenly over bolognese followed by grated parmigiano.
    5. Drizzle about 3/4 cup béchamel over the cheese as the last layer.
  5. Repeat, creating 4-5 layers of pasta depending on how deep your pan.
  6. After adding the last layer of pasta end with with remaining 1 cup bolognese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmigiano
  7. Place in the hot oven and set on a rimmed baking sheet (just to catch drips).
  8. Bake lasagna until bubbling around the edges, about 45min-1 hour.
  9. If the top needs a little browning, you can turn on the broiler for 1-2 min to get the top a little crispy but DO NOT walk away from the oven. 
  10. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Mangia! 

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