Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Daring Baker's March Challenge!

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

The Lasagne recipe called for fresh made spinach pasta in a lasagne with bolognese sauce and bechemel. I elected to use Mario Batali's lasagne recipe as it has proven itself time and again to make a *terrific* lasagne.

First I used my chef's chopper to dice up mire poix. I could have pulled out the cuisinart, but I just love this little thing!

Then I diced up pancetta.

Next was sauteeing the mire poix and pancetta in butter and olive oil until the veggies are soft.

Then you add in your meat. Mario tells you to use a beef/pork/veal mixture, but WF only had beef, no ground veal or pork when I visited the store... so I used 85% 15% beef...

Once the beef begins to brown you add in white wine, milk (to tenderize the meat) and tomato paste. You can also season to taste. I usually also add in a bit of balsamic vinegar. Then you let it simmer, uncovered until reduced. Usually about an hour.

Then it was time to make the pasta! (not unlike "time to make the donuts!") The challenge requested that you make spinach pasta, but the fam vetoed that... so I went for basic pasta. I was completely amazed that with flour and eggs you can make pasta. How cool is that?

After kneading and kneading, I had my pasta dough ball ready to go... I let it rest in the fridge covered for about a half an hour and then it was time to roll it out...

Unfortunately, the ye old pasta maker is somewhere out in the garage, a victim of the Kitchen remodel. I thought about getting the attachment for my kitchenaid, but decided that after the last daring baker's challenge where a trip to Williams Sonoma ended up with me taking home an ice cream maker I would give it a bit of a rest and instead roll it out the old fashioned way!

I sectioned off my dough ball into smaller parts and then rolled them out until they were thin enough that I could see through to the granite countertops. I then laid the pasta sheets in a just dampened kitchen towel. I left the pasta sheets in uneven shapes until I was ready to put the lasagne together.

Next I made the bechemel. Butter, flour and milk... what could be easier, right?

While letting the bechemel cool Mario suggests that you cover it with a sheet of parchment that has been buttered. The idea being the butter will melt from the steam of the bechemel and it will drip into the sauce, inhibiting the formation of a sauce-skin!!

Next it was boiling the water for the pasta! I then cut up the pasta sheets into classic lasagne rectangles and proceeded to boil them, for just a moment (or until they rose to the top of the water) before putting them in my lasagne layers...

First layer... sauce!

Then pasta, bechemel (and some ricotta with egg... because everything is better with more cheese!), then more sauce...

Pasta layer!

Gratuitous side dish shot-- Panzanella a la Giada (but with feta!)

Done! Sorry, I don't have a good individual shot of a slice of the lasagne as we are like wolves by the time this stuff comes out of the oven and alas we never let it sit long enough to properly set up. Instead we just scoop it out and it oozes all over all cheesey, bolognese and tasty!


Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

FABULOUS! I took a pass this month. I was The Lazy Baker. But I just saw the April challenge and I'll all in.

And...um...I think I have kitchen envy. :-)

Weef! said...

Hi there! I have to check out the April challenge-- I hope it's something fun! I was iffy on the first challenge... this one was salavged by the fact that I knew Mario Batali's lasagne recipe is tried and true... but for some reason it's always a bit stressful! As for the kitchen... I totally have to post pictures of the *before*... but, don't be too envious... this is totally a Home Depot special, but we're happy with how it looks (and, I have to say, compared to what used to be there, it's fab!... having countertops that aren't flamable is a good thing!) ;)