The baked Bolognese lasagna is a traditional first dish of the Emilian cuisine based on meat sauce, sheets of egg pasta, béchamel and parmesan. Baked Bolognese lasagna is a very rich, nutritionally complete first course, often served as a main course on special occasions.
In Italy, everyone has their own family recipe of Bolognese lasagna that everyone adores and jealously guards its secrets. Today, however, I wish to reveal my secrets to you for a noteworthy lasagna.
One of the fundamental elements of Bolognese lasagna is the Bolognese sauce, or as the Italians call it – ragù. This indispensable ingredient cannot and must not be bought, no ragù from the store can compare to the homemade sauce made with fresh meat, juicy tomatoes and Italian herbs. The trick is to cook the sauce for at least two hours. The more – the better rule applies here.
With 500 g of egg pasta you can make 5 layers in a pan of 35×25 cm, enough to feed 8 people. Of course it may vary depending on the thickness of the sheet, as well as on the thickness of the layer of meat and béchamel you make. It takes a little experience to reach perfect success.
How to prepare Béchamel sauce
Béchamel is an ancient basic sauce whose authorship is claimed by the French as much as by Italians. The most accepted hypothesis is that it was Caterina de Medici who imported it in France, with the name “glue sauce”. But it is thanks to the courtier Louis de Béchamel who then baptized the sauce with his name, becoming béchamel sauce. The béchamel is the most versatile of the cooking sauces, it will give an edge to all your dishes, from lasagna to baked pasta, there are countless possible uses.
Prepare the béchamel at home. At the supermarket you will surely find some worthy substitute of béchamel, but, let’s be honest, no brand will ever beat the taste of a béchamel sauce prepared with your own hands. Moreover, it will take only a little of your time and money. Here we go:
You will need 2 saucepans, one for the milk, the other for the actual béchamel sauce. Put 4 cups ml of whole milk in a saucepan to heat. The milk should be warmed only, do not bring it to a boil.
In the second saucepan instead, place 7 tablespoons of butter to melt, remove the butter from the heat and add 7 tablespoons of sifted flour, put it back on the heat and continuously stir until it becomes golden. Now add the milk to the butter and flour mixture (the famous roux), and continue mixing with a whisk so that no lumps are formed. Grate about half of a nutmeg into the saucepan. Add salt and pepper and cook for about 5 extra minutes on low heat, until your béchamel is thick.
How to prepare Bolognese sauce – Ragu
Start with the ragu for the lasagna by cooking sauté in a pan: finely chop onion, carrot and celery and fry in extra virgin olive oil.
After a few minutes, add 2 cups (16 oz) of minced meat, Italian prefer the beef meat, but you can combine beef and pork, pork and chicken, whatever kind of minced meat you prefer most. Always use a wooden spoon to work the meat in the pan. Sauté everything over high heat. When the meat changes color from red to brown, add a glass of red wine and let it evaporate.
Lower the heat of the stove to medium then add the tomato puree, or as the Italians call it, passata di pomodoro. Season with salt, pepper and Italian herbs. Oregano and basil, even the dry basil is a great choice to accompany meat. Cook with the lid on for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. To keep the sauce rather liquid you should add a little water every time you stir. The meat sauce should’t neither too thin nor too thick. Remember that best sauces are cooked at medium-low heat, always stirring and watching it not to lose all its liquid.
How to make Bolognese Lasagna?
When the meat sauce is ready, take a baking pan, spread a first layer of sauce and place the first of dried uncooked sheets of pasta on top. Cover now with the béchamel, then again with the sauce and finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan. And so you go for 4-5 times until you reach the top of the baking pan. Conclude with a final layer of béchamel sauce mixed with meat sauce and another handful of Parmesan. Traditional Italian cuisine is always generous, so be you with all the layers of your lasagna. Try to maintain the same balance between one layer and another. You can do as many layers as you like, it also depends on the size of the pan you are using.
Preheat oven to 180 °, ventilated mode. Here’s a tip that will allow the heat to reach the interior of the lasagna and cook uniformly: before transferring the pan inside the over, slice the lasagna with a knife, vertically. Cook them for about 45 minutes up to 1 hour (it varies depending on the oven capacity). Watch them frequently and, if they get too brownish, cover them with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven, let it settle for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
The Bolognese lasagna can be set a day earlier, placed in the fridge and cooked the second day. If they tend to darken too much, cover them with aluminum foil.
The great part of Lasagna is that there’s never leftovers because you can save it for later in the freezer. If frozen, baked Bolognese lasagna can be kept for about 3 months. To thaw it when needed, leave it in the fridge overnight, or use the microwave. Before getting to the most awaited part, i mean to the devouring part, heat it in the oven at 200 ° C for about 15 minutes.
This recipe of Bolognese lasagna is a great classic of Italian cuisine, more precisely Emilian. The layered pasta, a soft and creamy filling, an oven that cooks slowly make this course a flagship of Italian food.
- baking pan
Bolognese sauce - Ragù
- 2 medium onions
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 celery
- 1 cup minced pork
- 1 cup minced beef
- 3 cups canned tomato puree
- 1 glass red wine
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Italian herbs
- 4 cups whole milk
- 7 tbsp butter
- 7 tbsp flour
- 1/2 nutmeg
- white pepper
- 10 oz grated parmesan
- 10 oz no boil lasagna pasta
- Home-made Bolognese sauce
- Home-made Béchamel sauce
Bolognese sauce - Ragù
- Peel and finely chop onion, carrot and celery
- Fry in extra virgin olive oil at medium heat
- Add 2 cups (16 oz) of minced meat
- Work the meat in the pan until changes color from red to brown
- Add a glass of red wine and let it evaporate
- Add the tomato puree
- Stir everything, let simmer at medium-low heat
- Season with salt, pepper and Italian herbs
- Cook with the lid on for at least 2 hours
- Stir every 15-20 minutes
- Put 4 cups of whole milk in a saucepan to heat
- In the second saucepan instead, place 7 tablespoons of butter to melt
- Add 7 tablespoons of sifted flour
- Stir until it becomes golden
- Add the milk to the roux (butter and flour mixture)
- Continue mixing with a whisk so that no lumps are formed
- Grate about half of a nutmeg into the saucepan
- Add salt and white pepper and cook for about 5 extra minutes on low heat
- Take a baking pan, spread a first layer of meat sauce and place the first sheets of pasta on top
- Cover everything with the béchamel sauce
- Again with the meat sauce and finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan
- Repeat action for 4-5 times until you reach the top of the baking pan
- Conclude with a final layer of béchamel sauce mixed with meat sauce and another handful of Parmesan