|cheese. 'nuff said.|
I don’t need to give you a recipe for fantastic lasagna. Your grandmother can do that. Or your celebrichef of choice. Really, the best lasagnas are non-recipe lasagnas. If you read this blog with any regularity you know I’m a fan of non-recipe recipes. Just use what you’ve got and be creative. As long as you’ve got the sauce, pasta, filling, sauce, pasta, filling method down, it’s pretty hard to mess up lasagna. However, I do have a few tips for making lasagna unbelievably good.
· Don’t use the ‘no boil’ pasta. Just don’t. I’m all about cutting corners, but I’m just not sold on this one.
· That said, undercook the pasta like crazy. If the cook time on the box of lasagna is 8 minutes, cook it only 4. If you’re going to make the lasagna in advance & bake later, cook it even less. This will make the pasta a perfect al dente at the time you serve it, as it continues to cook in the sauce.
· Put a layer of sauce down first so the pasta doesn’t stick.
· While we’re on that, make your own sauce. It’s so easy to do and worth the extra effort. If you’re a meat eater, put Italian sausage in your sauce, if only for the flavor. If you can find one, put a pork neck bone in there. That’s the ‘secret’ to my family’s Sunday gravy.
· When you place the top and final layer of pasta, have the curly edges overlap the edge of the pan a little. When it bakes, they’ll crisp and caramelize, and when paired with the broiled, melty cheese (we’ll get to that), holy goodness it is incredible.
· When in doubt, use more cheese. I’m a ricotta purist. I’m a bit leery of the cottage cheese in lasagna thing, but to each his/her own. I mix the big container of ricotta with a hefty handful of parmesan & two eggs. And then sometimes I use more cheese. And a little more after that. I love cheese.
· However, skip the mozzarella. Trust me on this. I just don’t think mozzarella has the flavor needed to stand up to a hearty dish like this. I learned a trick from my friends at The Palm, and I never looked back. Top the lasagna with lots (and lots) of Muenster cheese. Like, a double layer of it over the entire top. Typically what I do is bake the lasagna covered in foil for an hour or so, then uncover, add the (gargantuan amount of) cheese, and broil it. It’s ridiculously good. In fact, I now use Muenster on many dishes – homemade pizza, chicken parm, etc.
· Let the lasagna rest a good 15 minutes after removing from the oven. The slices will hold together better, and the flavors will be incredible.
If you have a favorite lasagna recipe, please share it. If you have one that resembles a nachos lasagna (think beans, tomatoes, cheddar cheese layered with the pasta), I must know about it immediately.
If you’re making lasagna for dinner anytime soon, I must also immediately know about that so I can invite myself over.