The difficulty and time commitment for this recipe is HIGH. It's one of those recipes that you start making the ragu when you wake up, homemade noodles around lunch and assembly in late afternoon. Previously, I always made lasagna using the traditional ricotta and mozzarella layers, but I think the béchamel method is so much better.
As the recipe states, season as you go and make sure all the individual components taste great before they are assembled.
This recipe is based upon BA’s Best Lasagna by Chris Morocco. I’m not sure why, but the reviews are very poor for this recipe. It’s not an easy recipe and there are multiple parts to building the lasagna that all have to be properly seasoned for it all the come together in the end. My variation is similar, but I don’t add milk to the Rag and added short ribs which gives the Ragu a real meaty flavor from the bones cooking in the sauce over a long time.
- 3-4 (2-3lbs) short ribs
- 2 lb. meatloaf mix: ground pork/beef/veal combo
- 2 oz. pancetta or bacon
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leafs
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups whole milk
- 4 oz. Parmesan, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/4 lb. dried lasagna noodles or Homemade pasta
- Pecorino Romano cheese
- Kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil (for greasing)
Season short ribs with salt and cracked pepper on all sides. Prepare veg: onions, celery, carrot, garlic.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear short ribs on all sides. When nicely browned, reserved on plate/tray. Brown meatloaf mix. Remove browned ground meat and set aside with ribs. Sauce pancetta until browned. Remove and set aside as well. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of fat in the dutch oven.
Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6–8 minutes. Season veg with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste darkens, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly completely evaporated, 4–5 minutes. Add 2 cans of tomatoes and chicken stock and increase heat to medium-high until it starts to bubble and then turn heat down to low. Add back all the reserved meat, bay leaves and partially cover the dutch oven with lid. Ensure the short ribs are covered in liquid and leave on back of stove gently simmering for at least 2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. When meat is tender, fish out bay leaves and short rib bones and shred any remaining meat chunks with a fork. Taste for salt and add accordingly.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until flour begins to smell a bit nutty, about 4 minutes. Quickly whisk in milk and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until béchamel thickens, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking occasionally, until smooth and velvety, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in Parmesan, garlic powder and cayenne (you should have about 6 cups); season with salt and pepper. Be sure to taste your béchamel and ensure it has enough salt. If not seasoned, your Lasagna will taste like bland warm milk.
I prefer to make my own pasta dough and lasagna noodles vs using dried store bought pasta. I use BA’s Best pasta dough recipe and then a pasta maker accessory for my Kitchen aid stand mixer. It takes a little more time, but it turns this dish from a good to the best lasagna you’ll ever have.
Preheat oven to 325°. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally and separating noodles so they don’t stick to each other, until just starting to soften but still snap in half rather than bend when folded; 3 minutes is the magic number (2 minutes for homemade noodles). They will be so firm it will just seem all wrong, but this is what separates al dente lasagna layers from gummy ones. Transfer noodles to a large bowl of cold water to cool. Drain and lie flat in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, separated by parchment or wax paper.
Layers: Sauce/noodles/bechamel/grated cheese/sauce/noodles..repeat. Lightly oil a 13x9" glass or ceramic baking dish. Spread 1½ cups ragù in dish. Lay a single layer of noodles over ragù (you will need to cut some noodles in half in order to fill all gaps). Spoon 1¼ cups béchamel over noodles, spreading in an even layer with a small offset spatula. Top béchamel with 1½ cups ragù. Top with grated cheese. Repeat, creating 5 layers of pasta (or 6, depending on how deep your pan is) and ending with remaining 1 cup béchamel. It should come right to the top edge of the dish, and the top layer of pasta will get super crunchy when baked. I also like to add grated cheese to the top and drizzle with olive oil.
Cover with a lightly oiled piece of foil and set on a rimmed baking sheet (just to catch drips). Make sure you oil your foil or it will stick to the top and ruin the best part (the crunchy top layer). Bake lasagna until bubbling gently around the edges, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 425°; carefully place rack in top of oven. Uncover and continue to bake until top is browned and crisp around the edges, 10–15 minutes.
Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
If you made this recipe, please let us know
Date Added: 11/21/2022