For her birthday dinner this year, Tracie P requested lasagne alla bolognese, one of my pièces de résistance in the kitchen.
In my experience, lasagne alla bolognese are best prepared over the course of two days: the key is to make the ragù the day before (classic soffritto, equal parts ground pork and lean beef, one sausage link crumbled, tomato purée, white wine, chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste, a bay leaf, and a dash of chili flakes, simmered slowly for a few hours after the meat has browned well and been deglazed with the wine).
I cover the ragù and reserve it over night in the oven (there’s no need to refrigerate it since it will be reheated after you assemble the lasagne).
Making the lasagne isn’t as challenging as it seems: all you need is a food processor and a pasta rolling machine. (There’s a great recipe for making pasta sheets in Cesare Casella’s Italian Cooking Essentials for Dummies.)
Once you’ve rolled out and trimmed the lasagne, you layer them (in a oven-ready casserole dish that’s been greased with butter), alternating between ragù (the first), béchamel (second), and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (third, topped with a layer of pasta).
For my béchamel, I always use a tablespoon of white wine and a tablespoon of chicken stock, two subtle ingredients that give the sauce great nuance in my experience. And the Parmigiano Reggiano must be freshly grated, a sine qua non to great lasagne alla bolognese.
The combination of the rich flavors and textures is one of the supreme expression of Italian gastronomy and well worth the time and effort it takes to make this dish. We paired with a bottle of 2010 Langhe Nebbiolo by Produttori del Barbaresco. (The classic pairing would be Lambrusco, of course.)
Georgia P is still not ready for the fattiness of lasagne alla bolognese but she did get to have some pappardelle that I made from the trimmings. We tossed them in a pat of butter and topped them with a dust of Parmigiano Reggiano. She loved them…
We’ve had such a wonderful year, with too many blessings to count.
Thanks for reading and buona domenica, yall!