Friday, December 6, 2013

Anna Sultana's Lasagne, Maltese Style

Okay.. you now have two versions of Carmela's Lasagne:
Hope you enjoyed them both.
I also hope the recipes don't discourage you from making Lasagne.
Really, there is a simpler - and cheaper - way to make it.

Like I said back in 2010…  
my Ma, Anna Sultana, might've made lasagne with lots of fresh basil when she lived in Malta. But, when I was growing up, we lived in College Point, a German Irish town. It was the 50s. Ma was stuck shopping at the local A & P - a small supermarket - after working a full week at Lily Tulip and raising 3 kids. Ma was a little busy. She made lasagne with what she found at the A & P - she used dried oregano and parsley.

Carmela's Meat Sauce also is a little more upscale than what Ma made. Ground beef sirloin? Hamburger was more Ma's style. My parents weren't both working full time for their health.

Hints:

If your family prefers all pork or all beef, no problem.
Or you can use different proportions, more or less.

The tomato sauce can be served immediately, or you can let it cool, cover it and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.  This sauce also freezes well.

Al dente means slightly undercooked.

The Lasagne recipe calls for 4 Cups of meat sauce.
Four cups leftover for another meal.  Bonus!!
Or you can serve it, heated, on the side, if someone wants his pasta saucy.

For the Lasagne recipe you'll need a total of 
3/4 Cup of grated Parmesan or Romano (or a combination) total
1 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly grated or sliced


                        Meat Sauce

Makes about 4 cups

Heat in a large heavy pot over medium heat
4 Tablespoons olive oil
Add
1 Cup onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until softened. 
Add
1 pound ground beef (as lean as you can afford)
1 pound ground pork
Cook, stirring often to break the meat into bits, until it is nicely brown. 
If there is a lot of fat, spoon some out and discard it.

Stir in
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 28-ounce can tomatoes
2 6-ounce can tomato paste
Add about 1/4 Cup water to each can.
Rub the inside of the can with a spatula.
Add the liquid to the sauce.
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Partially cover the pan.
Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened, for about 2 hours.  
Remove bay leaf.


                        Lasagne 

Serves 6 to 8

Fill a large bowl with cold water.

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Add
1 pound dried lasagne
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta into a colander and then place the pasta in the cold water.
Run your hands through the pasta to be sure the noodles are separated.
Drain the pasta into a colander.

In a bowl combine
1 pound ricotta
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper  

Have on hand for the filling
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly grated or sliced       

Lightly oil a 9 x 13 x 2" pan
Spread a thin layer of the sauce
* Make a layer of 1/3 of the pieces of pasta, overlapping the edges.
Spread on top of the pasta
1/3 of the ricotta mixture
1/3 of the mozzarella cheese
1/3 of the remaining sauce
Repeat from * 2 more times.

Sprinkle over the top
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly grated or sliced
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

(At this point you can cover tightly with foil and refrigerate,
as long as overnight.
Let the lasagne get to room temperature before baking.)

Place a rack in the centre of the oven.
Preheat oven to 350ยบ  
Bake 30 minutes.
If it's browning too quickly, cover the top loosely with foil.
Bake another 15 minutes (longer if it had been refrigerated).
The sauce should be bubbling around the edges.
Remove from the oven and let sit 15 minutes.
Cut the lasagne into squares and serve with a wide spatula.

You could also place on the table a bowl of 
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
In case someone likes it cheesy.


Serve with cooked vegetables or a salad.
Some crusty bread is nice, too.
There's always someone who like to spoon out some extra sauce to eat with the bread.

That's my Ma's way... Lasagne served The Maltese Way.

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