A perfect lasagna isn’t just one recipe but instead is any recipe that results in a firm standup presentation and probably should have some flavoring of anise or fennel or such. Of course your sauce preference is personal so if you hate anise or fennel flavors, don’t put them in your lasagna. But I can tell you this, when somebody tells me they don’t like a certain flavor I usually disregard those comments because when a dish is done right, the “secret” ingredient is there but not overwhelming. The person enjoying the dish will usually say, ” What’s in this? It’s delicious!”
Your lasagna should start with beef and Italian sausage, both mild and hot. It should be said this is a meaty lasagna recipe and sure to please any lusty appetite. When I served this meal to my family it was a hit. I know they’re bias but in their defense they’ve never failed to be honest about my failures – two and counting. Once the salt lid fell of and all the salt from the bottle fell in and the other time I trippled the paprika. The mistake was that it was fresh paprika and the dish was inedibly hot.
Wilt your spinach as per the directions below and mix ricotta and egg. Set both aside separately.
As you assemble your lasagna remember to season each layer before adding the noodles on top. It’s better this way!
Brown the beef and remove it to a stainless bowl off heat. Brown the sweet sausage meat, remove to the stainless bowl off heat. Brown the spicy sausage meat and again remove.
Now add your nicely diced onion to the pan, cooking in the pan drippings and delicious brown bits that are left behind from the meat browning. Here you will add our spices – cinnamon, anise, fennel, clove, thyme, garlic, parsley sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir and let the spices get hot but not burn. Add your nicely diced red pepper. Return the browned meat and stir all together. This should all be piping hot. Pour in your Cabernet Sauvingnon and reduce until almost perfectly reduced. Add your tomato paste and stir and take care not to burn your contents as it should all be hot and well reduced. Move quickly. Add your tomato sauce and stir. Add your V-8 and bring to a hot boil and reduce to simmer to allow to reduce down to the meat.
In your buttered lasagna pan, put a very little bit of your sauce and spread it around. This is only intended to prevent your first layer of noodles from sticking to your pan. Place a first layer your almost cooked noodles along the bottom. Now add a half inch of your sauce which should not be runny at all. Now add another layer of noodles and more sauce and your wilted, salted spinach. Add another layer of noodles and sauce and well drained seasoned whole milk Ricotta. Sprinkle on a bit of your Parmigianno-Reggiano. Add another layer of noodles, sauce and your Mozzarella. Finally sprinkle the rest of the Parmigianno on top. Bake this covered in your hot oven of 475 for 10 minutes and then reduce to 350 for 45 minutes with it uncovered for the last 10 minutes. If it’s not browned turn on your broiler and brown. Don’t leave it at this point as it will brown fast. Keep an eye on it and remove when its beautifully golden. Let sit for 15 minutes and serve.
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 diced yellow onion
2tbsp fennel seed
1tsp ground cloves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
diced red pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
half bottle of V-8
1 1/2 cups ricotta mixed with two beaten eggs
three or four bunches fresh spinach, wilted in a sautée pan, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmigianno-Reggiano
4 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
12 high quality lasagna noodles. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. Set aside until assembly.
16 oz mozzarella – freshly grated