Chef TQ's Quarantine Cooking
April 2020 | Links In Bio
For this dish, we’ll need to make three recipes – each one worth the effort! We’ll start with the Bolognese as this is the most time consuming. You can work on the other recipes once the Bolognese is simmering. Each recipe makes a little bit extra – you can freeze or hang on to what you make for the next batch!
Classic Bolognese – makes roughly 1 gallon
This recipe allows for substitutions wherever you’d like to make them.
For the meat:
1.5 # Ground Beef
1.5 # Ground Pork
0.5 # Pancetta, small dice
1.5 # any combination of Italian sausage, prosciutto, mortadella, or salami scraps, all finely chopped or ground
Oil as needed, salt and pepper
For the vegetables:
2 large onions, small diced
8 stalks of celery, small diced
1 bulb of fennel, small diced
3 carrots, small diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
Oil, as needed
Salt and Pepper
3oz Tomato Paste
600 mL White Wine
4 C Beef Stock
1.25 C Tomato Puree
3 C Milk
1.5 C Heavy Cream
Salt as needed
For the meat, heat a large sauté pan over medium flame for 30 seconds. Add all of the meats and a swirl of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook meat without browning, stirring to break up. You want to avoid any large clumps. This is one time where continuous movement is preferred in cooking your meat! Once the meat releases its liquid and the liquid is subsequently cooked out, turn pan off and set aside.
For the vegetables, heat a large sauté pan over medium flame for 30 seconds. Add all of the vegetables. Add a swirl of oil and season with salt and pepper. Sweat the vegetables for 5-7 minutes, stirring every 60 seconds. Do not allow to brown. Once vegetables have released their own moisture and it has subsequently cooked out, add the tomato paste and stir into the vegetables. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes longer – the paste will turn bright red. Add the white wine and turn heat up to medium. Reduce the wine until nearly dry, stirring periodically, then remove from the heat.
Find a pot, large enough to hold the meat mixture, the vegetable mixture, and the remaining ingredients. Combine all remaining ingredients and turn heat to medium high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the mixture to a simmer. Stir well, then cover and simmer on very low heat for 2 hours. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. After 2 hours, remove cover, and continue cooking until meat is fully braised and tender. This should be about 4 hours total, sometimes longer. The end product should be a fully thickened liquid that is burnt orange in color.
Alternative cooking methods – once all ingredients are combined, bring to a simmer and transfer, covered, to a 300F oven. Cover for 3 hours, then uncover, stir, and cook uncovered for another hour, or until it is done.
You can also do this in a crock pot.
For the pasta dough:
- 12oz Spinach (frozen or fresh)
- 4 Eggs
- 12 Egg Yolks
- 5# Pasta Flour (can also use AP Flour), plus more for kneading and rolling
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- Using a blender, combine the eggs, egg yolks, spinach and salt. Blend on high until the mixture is bright green and thoroughly combined.
- To make the dough by hand, add the pasta flour to a work surface and create a well in the center. You can also use a stand mixer affixed with a dough hook attachment by placing the flour in the bowl, making a well, and adding the spinach and egg mixture.
- To make the dough by hand, use a fork, and gradually pull flour from the inner ring of the well. Make a circular motion around the inner wall and mix the flour in with the egg after each circle is completed. Continue until you’ve made a stiff batter. Combine the outer wall of the flour with the green dough from the interior, and knead by hand until the dough comes together. Make sure all of the flour is incorporated at this point. If the dough seems wet, add flour in small increments, 2-3 Tbsp at a time, and continue kneading.
- The dough should be moist, but not leave any residue on your finger tip when pressed.
- Continue kneading for just a few more minutes.
- Divide into 4 equal portions, knead each into a ball, and wrap each in plastic or place under a kitchen towel.
- Allow dough to relax at room temperature for 20 minutes before use.
While the dough is resting, make the bechamel.
Bechamel Sauce – makes roughly 1qt
1 stick butter
1 C Flour
4 C Milk
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Grated Nutmeg
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Once a roux has formed, continue stirring and set flame to low. In a separate saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over high heat, and immediately turn off.
Using a whisk, stir the roux, and slowly stream in some of the milk to the roux pan. Increase heat and add remaining milk. Whisk very well to create a smooth sauce. Add salt and nutmeg, continue cooking over low flame for 4-5 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir again. Reserve at room temp, covered with plastic wrap.
Butter for your pan
Grated Parmesan for the layers
To roll dough, run through dough sheeter starting at setting 4, and rolling thinner to setting 1. After setting 1, make a tri-fold – Should be folded like a letter, in three parts. Feed the open end of the dough through the sheeter, using flour in between rolls only if sticking to your rollers. You don’t want to add much flour to the dough at this stage.
Repeat the process of the book fold, and rolling the open end to setting 1 two more times. Once completed, dust work surface and lay the dough rolled to setting 1 on the floured surface.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and season well. Have ready a full sheet tray with parchment paper that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray
Locate your lasagna pan (any baking dish will do), and cut your sheets of dough to the dimensions of your lasagna pan. Blanch the dough sheets one at a time in the boiling salted water until they float. Remove with tongs by grabbing the center of the sheet, lifting straight out of the water, and giving a small twist of the wrist to allow the excess water to run back into the pot. Place pasta sheet flat on the greased parchment sheets, allow to cool at room temp. Spray each pasta sheet before adding another on top.
Completely butter the inside of the lasagna pan. Line the pan a bit of bechamel, spread end to end. Then line with pasta sheets in a single layer – don’t overlap too much, but also be sure that there aren’t any gaps.
You want to create a solid base that is fully enclosed on the bottom – no gaps.
Begin layering the lasagna by adding slightly warmed bechamel to the bottom base. Use a scoop for consistency for each layer.
The bechamel should be about 1/3″ thick. Coat bechamel with grated parmesan. Then cut a sheet of blanched pasta dough to fit exactly
inside of the pan. This time, add bolognese with the same portion scoop as the bechamel. Add half this amount in bechamel to the bolognese sauce, and mix together in the layer. Sprinkle parmesan on top.
Repeat the alternating layers bechamel/parm + pasta sheet + bolognese/bechamel/parm + pasta sheet two more times, or until your lasagna pan is full. On the top and final layer of your pasta sheet, add bechamel to cover.
To bake the lasagna, preheat an oven to 325F. Cover the pan with foil and bake the lasagna for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 25 minutes
Allow to cool at room temp for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Serve with grated parmesan and fresh black pepper and more of any of the sauces, if desired.