Wednesday, June 29, 2005

De-Constructed Lasagna - Its What's For Dinner

I made a little (very little) culinary conquest last night, when I conceived, implemented and delivered "Pursuit's Deconstructed Lasagna". In truth, the dish wasn't completely deconstructed since all the ingredients were still together, but it was free form, and incredibly delicious. Look at that photo. Truly, a wonderful sight in all it's gooey glory don't you think? Do you want to try it at home? Here is how.


1 Spanish Onion, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 pound ground beef (ground veal would be more traditional, but beef is what I had)
a palm full of "Italian Seasonings" (Dried, made by McCormick)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chahula hot sauce to taste (I would also try Tobasco Chipotle)

Saute the first five ingredients until the onion is tanslucent, about 5 minutes. Add veal, salt and pepper and brown. Next drain the excess grease from the pan, put in a bowl and set aside to cool. While still warm add hot sauce to your desired taste. Remember it is going to be the filling in the lasagna, so a little extra heat is ok. You want it to just "kiss" the tastebuds, kind of in a pre-coital way. You know what I mean, a strong suggestive sensation that asserts itself; the promise of more to come.

Tomato Sauce:

1/2 a Spanish onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, grated
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
1 tablespoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Saute first three items until translucent, then add the tomatoes. Smash up the whole tomatoes a bit, and then add the thyme. Salt and pepper to taste and cook until thickened. At least 1/2 hour, and up to 1 hour. Cook very, very slowly.


1 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
maybe some water if necessary

Start a large pot of salted water to boil, and next to it set a large ice bath.

Combine eggs and flour into a dough. Knead for 5-10 minutes. Dough should be just slightly tacky, but not too much. Run through pasta machine through all settings. You'll have long sheets at this point, cut them into 6x4 squares (that is the size in the picture. In retrospect, I'd go with smaller squares say 3x3 so you have four plates of individual servings) and dump into a pot of boiling salted water. Dump in 5 squares at a time, cook for one minute, and then remove and dunk in an ice bath for one minute. Remove from ice bath and drain squares on clean kitchen towels.

The Home Stretch:

Turn on oven to 350.

Remaining ingredients:

1 1/4 cup Fresh mozzarella
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup Ricotta
Handful of Basil leaves, torn
Maybe some toasted pine nuts

Here we go. On an oven proof plate, lay down a little sauce and then one pasta square. Cover it with the filling, and then dot it with mozzarella, ricotta, and sprinkle a little parmesan. Your gonna have to eyeball this to your taste. Top it with some a little sauce - not too much! Lay down another sheet and repeat. Keep up this process for 5 to 6 layers. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan, and fire it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Watch it, you don't want it too runny or the noodles to burn too much. A little brown on the ends of the noodles with some good gooeyness on the inside is what your shooting for.

Serve immediately with a nice salad and some good crusty bread. I choose a 2001 Marco Donati Sangue de Drago (Blood of the Dragon). This is a hearty Italian wine, made from the Teroldego grape. Nice complexity with some tanin, the taste of cherry, pepper, blackberry and perhaps tobacco. It was a lovely choice to accompany the meal. Ripassos or Chiantis would work well too.
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