Let me start this post by saying My mother was a wonderful cook and she taught me to love food. I miss her every day. This recipe was a holiday special in our house and a reason to wait for the far, far too infrequent times we could have it. I hope you give this a try and think of someone you love when you do.
I am giving you a few items in this post that were not in my mothers dish. These are all marked as optional and I feel they can all be left out to still have a good dish. These are all things we have tried and added over the years but we will still return to the basic ingredient list when we want this to be a dish for a special occasion.
3 hours, 30 minutes
6 hours, 30 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
2 6 oz cans tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic
2 lb fresh mushrooms sliced (optional)
salt, fresh ground pepper, basil, oregano, and parsley. one tsp up to 3 tsp to taste
1 jar of roasted red peppers (optional)
1.5 lb lean ground beef
1.5 lb ground pork
4 to 6 cloves of garlic crushed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup dried bread crumbs
2 large eggs
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 kg lasagna noodles : note you can use fresh or dry. Dry noodles will need to be cooked in boiling water as indicated below.
6 large hard boiled eggs
2 lb mozzarella cheese preferably low moisture not skimmed milk as the fat makes it more melty.
1/2 cups Parmesan cheese. Do not use the canned stuff! It tastes terrible and melts like plastic
In a large pot heat the oil and then add the cans of sauce and optional red roasted red peppers and keep on medium heat making sure to stir frequently. fill each can with water and pour that water in to the pot as well. Add the spices and garlic and cook until the sauce begins to thicken. Note if the sauce is cooked to high it will burn so make sure to check frequently. Be sure to turn down the heat if the sauce is bubbling enough to splatter.
in a large bowl put all of the meat and other meatball ingredients. using your hands mix for 10 minutes or until the meat comes together as one large ball. The texture should be smooth and the meat should not be lumpy. note if you think the meat is not sticking well you can add more cheese or one more egg but be sure you have mixed it enough first. i find that mixing cold meat takes longer so I leave the meat out on the counter for 10 minutes or so before using it.
once the meat is ready take small pieces about the size of 2 marbles and roll between your hands vigorously. make sure to press hard wile rolling to keep the meat balls from coming apart in the sauce. You can drop the meat balls in to the sauce as soon as they are rolled saving you from one less plate to clean. Note if you just want loose meat in the dish you should brown it in the pot before adding the sauce.
While the meat balls are cooking in the sauce you should now great the cheese and eggs in to separate bowls. Now boil the noodles if its a dry pasta just until the noodle can be flexed with out breaking. 'Once the noodles are cooked enough put them under cold running water to make sure they do not over cook. Keep the noodles in the water until you are using them or they will stick together.
Now you are ready to assemble your final dish. In a large roasting pan, I often use disposable tin pans if i am gifting the dish to someone. The pan should be about 4 or 5 inches deep and 13 by 9 inches per side. start by spooning some of the sauce in to the pan making sure to spread it everywhere. Then sprinkle in a little of the Parmesan cheese. Then place a layer of noodles making sure to cover everything. Now sprinkle on some of the eggs, followed by the mozzarella again making sure to cover the whole pan. Spoon in more sauce and add Parmesan cheese again.
Keep going with the noodles and so on. Note if you want to use zucchini it should go on top of the mozzarella before the sauce. the zucchini should be parged with salt before using.
You should get at least 4 layers for a full pan. The last layer will be putting more mozzarella on top of the sauce so that a nice crust can form.
Bake in a 350 F oven covered with foil for 20 minutes and then remove the foil and keep baking until tapping the surface with the back of a fork or spoon does not make a splashing sound but more of a tap. This should be about 15 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes to set up nicely. Take a sharp knife and cut through the whole pan creating 8 slices. you should cut all the slices right away even if your not going to serve all of it, as it will be harder to cut as it cools more. Enjoy with fresh baked bread and red wine.
Let me know if you make this and tell me what you think