The first time I saw lasagna prepared, it was at my friend Scarlett’s house in the mid-1990s. As she pulled all those noodles from the boiling water and placed them neatly on waxed paper, I was both impressed and intimidated, realizing I needed an easier way. As it turns out, dry noodles layered with the sauce in the lasagna pan is incredibly easy. I use canned crushed tomatoes for their predictable moisture content. It not only guarantees that the noodles will cook to al dente, but that the dish will set up to the desired level of firmness.
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
||Prepare; cover and set aside.||Freshly shredded has a smooth melting texture.|
||Meat sauce: Preheat an empty 5-quart tri-ply stockpot over medium heat until water droplets flicked from fingertips dance across the base (2-4 minutes). Add meat, breaking into marble-sized pieces with a potato masher; occasionally turn with a bamboo spatula until browned (~15 minutes). Add onion, garlic, and oregano and cook, occasionally tossing, until onions are tender (~5 minutes). Stir tomato into the stockpot to deglaze the pot. Over medium-high heat, cover and bring to a boil (~7 minutes). Remove from heat.||Tri-ply is nonreactive, and will not release undesirable flavors during deglazing. The Maillard (my YARD) reaction (browning) adds rich flavor. Bamboo is gentle on cookware. Deglazing uses liquid to release tasty bits.|
|Center an oven rack; preheat to 350°F Convection (verify with an oven thermometer). Meanwhile…||Internal oven thermostats are often improperly calibrated.|
||Ricotta mixture: In a 3-quart bowl whisk egg until loose and frothy. Mix in remaining ingredients with a bamboo spoon. For parsley, use a sharp kitchen or garden shears for nice, clean cuts. Set aside.||Breaking up the egg is easier before adding the other ingredients. Sheep ricotta is a little creamier than cow ricotta. If using cow ricotta, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream for each 4 ounces ricotta. Calabrian peppers have a spicy, fruity flavor profile.|
Note: Lasagna noodles typically come in a 16 ounce package with 18 noodles. If using an 11×14-inch pan, 6 noodles can be used for each noodle layer.
|In a 4-quart capacity 9×13-inch square edged baking dish or stainless steel pan layer the following:
3 cups meat sauce
|Glass and stainless steel are both nonreactive with acidic foods, such as tomatoes, whereas aluminum creates gray discoloration. Uncooked noodles are easy to handle and absorb excess liquids.|
|1 teaspoon oregano flakes||With a spatula, evenly press the surface to submerge noodles and eliminate air pockets. Evenly distribute remaining 2 cups of mozzarella. Sprinkle evenly over mozzarella. Place dish/pan on a sheet pan to catch drips; bake until a skewer inserted in the middle penetrates all layers with a hint of resistance (38-40 minutes). Rest 20 minutes before serving.||Exposed noodles harden under oven heat. Resting allows noodles to finish absorbing excess liquids, firming the dish.|
Additional Testing Notes: Lasagna noodles typically come in a 16 ounce package with 18 noodles. If using an 11×14-inch pan, 6 noodles can be used for each noodle layer.