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Greg's lasagne al forno
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Lasagne al forno is the prototypical way to prepare lasagne. It's surprisingly complicated: apart from the lasagne themselves, you need a meat filling (ragù bolognese), besciamella (which for some reason is usually called by the French name sauce béchamel) and salsa di pomodori.

On this page I'll limit myself to the details of how to put the bits together. The first question is: what kind of pasta? Yes, it's lasagne, of course, but there are at least four different ways to get it:

Quantities

I make my lasagne in an oven dish 33x26 cm in size and about 8 cm deep. This is enough for a total of about 6 layers, and that's what I've accounted for here.

Ingredients

quantity       ingredient       step
100 g       chicken liver       1
1.2 litre       sauce béchamel       2
0.5 square metres       lasagne       3
about 1 kg       ragù bolognese (see note below)       3
300 ml       salsa di pomodori       3
      grated parmesan cheese       3
      butter flakes       3

The quantity of pasta is approximately what comes in the 375 g pre-packaged “fresh” lasagne that we can get at our local supermarkets. It has 8 sheets that by chance are the same length as the dish and ⅔ the width, so I cut two of them into halves and make 5 layers: 4 with 1½ sheets, and the fifth with two sheets.

Method

Ragù bolognese is usually made with chicken livers; I prefer to keep them separate and chop them coarsely, then add them to the layers along with the ragú, rather than mixing them in with it. Exceptionally, I don't weigh the ragù, since it's difficult to spread it equally if it's weighed.

  1. Fry the chicken livers in butter and allow to cool. Chop into small cubes.

  2. If using “instant” lasagne, add another 200 ml to the sauce béchamel to make up for the moisture that the pasta will absorb. If using “no-cook” fresh pasta, add 50 ml.

  3. Use an oven dish about 30x30 cm. Spread a thin layer of béchamel on the bottom of the oven dish, then repeat the following six times:

    • Place a layer of pasta across the entire surface.
    • Spread a thin layer of béchamel over it.
    • Spread a layer of ragù over the top.
    • Add some chicken liver.
    • Spread another layer of béchamel. The béchamel must touch the pasta from both sides.
  4. Next, place the dish in an oven pre-heated to 180° for 5 minutes. This dries the surface sufficiently to ensure that things don't get messy in the next step:

  5. Spread the salsa di pomodori over the top, and spread parmesan to taste. Add butter flakes and return to the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. The dish is ready when the surface has the right colour.

Lasagne or lasagna?

For some reason, the US name for this pasta dish is lasagna (singular) and not lasagne (plural). That's not the case in Italian or other English usage, and even in the USA you don't hear of spaghetto or macarono.


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