Three Meat, Three Cheese Lasagna

My recipe is adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking.

This lasagna is made by first putting together a slow cooking Ragu and then layering it with the noodles, cheese and a béchamel sauce for extra creaminess. There is very little tomato in the Ragu so it’s not what you would expect to get in most Italian restaurants in Atlanta. My husband prefers that, because he’s not a big fan of tomato based sauces. If you do like that, you can always add a bit of a homemade tomato sauce when you are layering the lasagna or add more tomatoes to the Ragu itself.

Remember that beef bone broth that I made and shared in a previous blog post? I used 2 cups of that in this Ragu instead of chicken stock for an even deeper flavor. You can definitely substitute chicken stock for the bone broth.

Ingredients

For the Ragu:

  • 4 ounces of pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium celery stalk with leaves, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb of lean ground beef or venison
  • 1/2 lb of ground lamb
  • 1/2 lb of mild italian sausage, loose or removed from casings
  • 1 ounce of prosciutto, chopped
  • 2/3 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 cups of beef bone broth (here is where you can sub in the chicken stock)
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 3 whole plum tomatoes from a can, drained (reserve the rest for another use)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

For the Béchamel:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • white pepper
  • salt

For the assembly:

  • 12 – 15 no boil lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago or fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions

For the Ragu:

In a large enameled cast iron pot add a little olive oil and then the pancetta over medium high heat. Cook until some of the fat is rendered from the pancetta.

Add the onion, celery and carrot to the pot and cook until just beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook another 1 – 2 minutes. Then all the rest of the meats. Cook until the meats are a nice, deep brown.

Deglaze the pot with the red wine and then allow to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add 1/2 cup of the bone broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is completely reduced out. Repeat with the next 1 cup, 1/2 cup at a time until reduced out. This entire process should take about an hour. If it is reducing too quickly, lower the heat. Remember you want a simmer, not a boil.

Add the last 1/2 cup of the broth and the crushed red pepper flakes. Partially cover the pot, keep heat at a simmer, and allow to cook for 1 hour, stirring frequently.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as you go. Cook uncovered for 45 minutes on medium low heat until the Ragu is thick and meaty.

For the Béchamel:

Note: Make the Béchamel right before you are ready to assemble the lasagna.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and then gradually wisk in all of the flour. Allow the roux to cook for about 2 minutes, continuing to wisk periodically, to allow some of the raw flour taste to cook out. Then add the milk, about a half cup at a time, whisking continuously until all the milk is incorporated. Season with the ground nutmeg, white pepper and salt to taste. Remove from heat.

For the assembly:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In your selected large baking dish, add a thin layer of the béchamel sauce, then a layer of pasta, then another layer of the béchamel and a layer of the Ragu. Continue until you have used all your pasta. On top of the last layer of pasta, add a layer of the béchamel, then pile on all the cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 -45 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes. Rest 10 minutes before serving.

I like to serve this with good crusty bread and a very simple arugula salad, dressed with lemon, oil and vinegar with some shaved parmesan cheese.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”  

Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Chicken, potato, leek pot pie

After making the stock featured in the last post, it was pot pie time. This one comes together pretty easily because I used store-bought frozen puff pastry rather than making the crust from scratch.

The recipe can be modified with any veggies and meat you prefer, so it’s really more of a method than a strict “recipe”. I’ve made it with Italian sausage and with leftover steak on previous occasions. It would be yummy turned into a kind-of Guinness beef stew. Hmmmm… pretty sure I’m gonna do that when the weather gets colder.

Finished Pot Pie. Now you definitely want to know how to make this, right?

Ingredients

  • 1 medium leek, cut into 1/3″ rounds
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 2 – 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 oz. frozen peas
  • 1 pound of cooked, shredded or chopped chicken
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • fresh herbs, if you have them on hand
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • olive oil, 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once the butter is melted completely, add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook until just soft.

To this add the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk until fully incorporated. Let this mixture cook together, whisking regularly, for about 2 minutes. This process lets the raw flour taste cook out of the roux.

Start adding the chicken stock 1/4 cupful at a time and whisk the stock into the roux until smooth. Once all the stock is in the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the carrots, leek and potatoes. Simmer until the carrots and potatoes are just softened and the stock has reduced down by about half. Add the chicken, peas, herbs and salt/ pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Remove from heat and place the pastry over the pan, tucking in the corners gently. It’s ok if it does not completely cover the pan. Brush the top with a small amount of olive oil and cut four 1″ slits in the top of the pastry too vent.

Bake the pot pie until the pastry is beginning to brown and is cooked through – 23 – 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

This is great served with a salad or just on it’s own with a nice glass of wine. If you keep the stock and puff pastry on hand, it’s also a fairly quick and easy weeknight meal.

This is my cooking companion, Guinness. He’s never far away when something is being prepared. I think he knows I am very likely to drop things on the floor and he definitely does not want to miss that!

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” 
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Make-a-da-Stock

I love days when I can stay home and cook something that simmers on the stove for hours or slow cooks in the oven until the whole house smells delicious and warm and cozy. Even when it’s still hot outside and fall seems too far away, this helps me feel like the summer-that-won’t-end might not make me lose my mind after all.

Beef bone broth on the left, chicken on the right

Today I decided to make both a beef bone broth and a chicken stock. I had frozen both some short rib bones from a recent grill out on the Big Green Egg and a chicken carcass from making a roast bird a few weeks before. In checking my produce drawer the carrots and celery were nearing the end of their usefulness, so stock time is definitely upon us!

Chicken Stock

Simmering goodness. Almost makes me wish I had a cold.
  • Chicken carcass, with some breast meat remaining, from a roast chicken or rotisserie chicken.
  • 2 chicken thighs with bone – in and skin on
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 3 stalks of celery with leaves, cut into large pieces
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 6 – 10 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • handful of parsley or other fresh herbs
  • bay leaves
  • peppercorns – about 2 tablespoons
  • whole coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon
  • dried oregano
  • oil
  • salt and pepper
  • water
  • large stock pot

Heat a bit of oil in the stock pot over medium heat.

Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.

Add all the veggies to the pot and brown those up a bit, too.

Throw everything else into the pot and cover with water.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

At about 20 minutes in, remove the chicken thighs, let cool and then remove the meat.

Reserve meat and add the bones and skin back to the pot.

Simmer for at least 2 hours (3 is better).

Strain out the solids through a fine sieve or cheesecloth (or both). I usually strain twice.

Salt and pepper to taste.

The stock can be used right away to make a pot pie (coming soon to a blog near you), soup, chicken and dumplings or a million other things. If not using all of it right away, allow the stock to cool completely and then place into containers that can be frozen. This will keep forever in the freezer to use whenever you need stock.

Beef Bone Broth

I wish the interwebs had smell-o-vision.
  • 2 lbs of short rib bones
  • 3 lbs of left over short ribs with bones
  • 2 onions
  • half a head of garlic (unpeeled)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 3 stalks of celery with leaves, cut into large pieces
  • large handful of parsley or other fresh herbs
  • 3 whole pods of star anise
  • peppercorns (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 nutmeg pods
  • bay leaves (3 or 4)
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Large stock pot
  • Sheet pan
  • oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the short ribs and bones with the carrots, celery, onion and garlic on a sheet pan with a drizzle of oil and roast in the oven until the veggies start to get soft and the bones/ribs are dark.

Once roasted, dump the sheet pan contents into your stock pot, scrape all the brown bits from the pan into the stock pot as well. Add all of the other ingredients up to the apple cider vinegar and then cover with water.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer.

Bone broth should simmer for a minimum of 8 hours. Ideally you would go up to 24 hours, by removing from the stove before you go to bed, letting cool, refrigerating overnight and then returning to simmer the next day. (Do not leave your stove on overnight!)

After the broth has finished simmering (or you are done waiting and can’t take it anymore), strain (twice, same method as the chicken stock), season with salt and pepper and then enjoy.

I plan to use this in various ways, including to make a ragu for lasagna later this week (stay tuned), but it also can just be eaten with some good crusty bread and cheese. Please do yourself a favor and open a nice bottle of red wine with that.

“Laughter is brightest

in the place where the food is”

Irish Proverb

Charcuterie for a House Warming

I love putting together charcuterie boards. My favorite thing to do is wander through the farmer’s market and pick out wonderful veggies, cheeses, meats and other delicious things to pile on the most beautiful board I can find for the event at hand.

This weekend that event was for our dear friends, Dustin and Kelly who bought an amazing townhouse! They moved 45 minutes away – which ☹️. But the place is so, so perfect and they deserve it so we forgave them.

And I get to make a grazing board for their housewarming! Yay! 😁

I spent a couple hours at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market hunting and gathering and put together a pretty good spread. If I do say so myself.

  • Radicchio
  • Endive
  • Orange bell pepper
  • Crispy Okra
  • Pickle skewers
  • Prosciutto
  • Capicola
  • Truffled manchego cheese
  • Brie
  • Soft goat cheese
  • Red pear
  • Green pear
  • Cocoa fig spread
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Dried cranberries
  • Wasabi peas
  • Sourdough cheese crackers
  • French baguette
  • Sesame poppy seed crackers
  • Pumpernickel

Fill up the best board you can find and gift it to your friends. I recommend checking places like T. J. Max and Marshall’s or HomeGoods first and then putting together accessories from there or Target to make a great housewarming gift/ grazing board. For this one I found the board at T.J. Max, the bowls and cheese knives are Magnolia Home from Target and the food is all from the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market.

Take lots of pictures before you let anyone start picking all the yummy goodness off of it. Seriously. They can wait. They aren’t animals.

Beautiful, ain’t it? Hey, thanks.