Grandma’s Best Lasagna
Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain the noodles, reserving pasta water and rinse under cold water.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground sirloin
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Two 28-ounce cans Italian peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved
One 28-ounce can tomato puree
2 cups reserved pasta water
2 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 pounds fresh ricotta
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound packaged whole-milk mozzarella, shredded
1 large egg, beaten
12 dried lasagna noodles
In dutch oven, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the ground beef, sausage and cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the meat into large chunks. Add the garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and cook until you can pIck up the scents. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, coatIng meat. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the tomato puree along with the pasta water, bay leaves, thyme and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta with the parsley, basil and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Add about 1/4 cup of each cheese (shredded mozzarella, parm, pecorino, asiago) and season with salt and pepper. Beat in the egg.Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Line the dish with overlapping noodles. Spread one-half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, shred more of the other cheeses, then top with one-half of the meat sauce and another layer of noodles. Repeat the layering with the remaining ricotta, shredded cheeses, another 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Top with noodles and cover with 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Toss the remaining mozzarella over the lasagna, shred other cheeses on top.
Bake the lasagna for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and crisp around the edges and the filling is bubbling. Let the lasagna rest before serving.
(You could take it out at this stage. Yummy & done. I just prefer more done…crispy cheesy top.)