Marcella Hazan’s Lasagna

You may have read in my Roma & München blog post that I missed out on the famous lasagna at Tavernaccia da Bruno while in Rome so Robert and I decided that, once back in Stuttgart, we would make Marcella Hazan’s classic lasagna with bechamel and bolognese sauce. Hazan is by-far my favorite Italian cookbook author. I make her easy tomato sauce at least once a week. My favorite book by her is The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which is where we found this lasagna recipe. I bought this book in Florence, Italy in 2001 while studying abroad so it also carries a lot of special memories. Here I will include the recipe with photos.

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First, we made the Bolognese sauce. Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 45g / 1.5oz butter
  • 85g / 3oz onion, chopped
  • 3 sticks  celery, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 350g / 12oz ground beef
  • 250ml / 8oz whole milk
  • nutmeg
  • 250ml / 8oz white wine
  • 500g / 1lb + 2oz canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with juices

The first step is to chop the carrots, celery, and onion. Then, add the butter, oil, and onions to a medium-heat pan (I used Le Creuset) and cook the onions until translucent. Then, add the carrots and celery and cook altogether for a few minutes. Add the ground beef to the mixture and salt immediately, separate with a fork, and cook until no longer raw. Add a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg. Then, add the milk and cook until the milk completely boils away.

Then, add the white wine and tomatoes and let simmer for at least three hours. The waiting is tough as it already smells so good! And, that’s it for the Bolognese sauce! Just wait, wait, wait… 🙂

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Then, when the Bolognese sauce is ~10 minutes from being finished, get started on the Bechamel sauce.

Ingredients for Bechamel sauce:

  • 450ml / 3/4pint milk
  • 50g / 2oz butter
  • 47g / 1+3/4oz flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Add the milk to a pot and bring just to the verge of boiling. While heating the milk, melt the butter in a separate saucepan and then turn the heat down to low. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the hot milk (a couple of spoonfuls at a time) to the flour/butter mixture and continue stirring. Once all ingredients are incorporated, turn the heat down to low, add salt, and stir until the sauce has the consistency of sour cream. Done! Finally, add the bechamel sauce to the bolognese sauce and stir well.

Now it’s time to assemble the lasagna and stick it in the oven!

Ingredients for Lasagna:

  • Lasagna noodles (fresh or store-bought)
  • Butter (for greasing the baking dish)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese , shredded (for the top of the lasagna before baking and serving)

Cook the lasagna noodles in salted boiling water according the directions on the package if store-bought, or for just a few seconds if using fresh pasta. Once boiled, rinse the pasta in cold water and lay flat. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400ºF. Grease the lasagna pan with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with lasagna noodles. Spread a thin layer of the bechamel-bolognese sauce on the noodles and top with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the last few steps until you have at least 6 layers of pasta — make sure to reserve enough bechamel-bolognese sauce for the top layer. Once complete, sprinkle the top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a few dollops of butter. Bake for 10-15 minutes…and ENJOY!!

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