You may be wondering what is a tray of lasagne Bolognese doing at an Italian Barbecue?!? At an Italian grigliata (barbecue), you will surely find plenty of delicious meat. And this may come to a surprise to you, but the barbecue will be ...minus the sauce. They don’t smother their meat in sweet sauces usually as we do in the States. There is typically a wonderfully light sauce based on olive oil and fresh herbs.
Before I get into this grigliata and the incredible lasagne, I want to mention that I just posted about beautiful Como on Lake Como! I share some tips on what to see and do when you go there (besides saying CIAO to George!;) So, if you are dreaming of visiting there one day or have been and want to go back, see what there is to do! Any thing I missed mentioning, let me know in a comment!
Back to the lasagne! Here is a quick video I made of my mother-in-law in Italy making her famous pasta!! It's short and will make you HUNGRY!!
It is just perfect to dunk your fresh bread in. But there is always lasagne. At least at a barbecue that my mother-in-law Teresa is involved in;). She is from Calabria and has lived in the Lombardy area for more than half her life. So she is all about having lots and lots of food at any party.
This year I even attempted to film her making he famous lasagne. (You may be wondering why lasagne and not lasagna...in Italian, lasagne means more than one lasagna...so it's the whole dish, or rather, more than one noodle. Lasagna would refer to literally, one lasagna noodle. The "a" then changes to an "e" to reference the plural. Because you've made more than one noodle, it's now lasagne...I have to keep it grammatically correct when talking about my mother-in-law, so lasagne it is!). Teresa makes every thing by scratch. She makes portions for about 40 people. So there is a lot of sauce and a lot of dough for the noodles and I help her as much as she allows me too (she claims she doesn't need my help ).
Tender and sweet grilled eggplant and stuffed tomatoes were part of the contorni (side dishes). Now to be specific, because she would want you to know, Teresa (my MIL)did not make these contorni, her cousins did. They were absolutely lovely, but she does her contorni a little different.
Here is the meat, and as I mentioned, there are no fancy sauces with honey and ketchup and hot sauce. It's pretty simple and quite amazing. They can still be finger looking good minus barbecue sauce!
Beautiful pears growing right next to us in the garden of our cousin's house.
My husband’s nonna was taking a break in the shade. She worked hard cooking with her daughter (my mother-in-law Teresa)for the feast. They made a lasagne and baked some desserts. Let me tell you something about nonna Antonia. She is not officially my grandmother, but she is like my grandmother, since she is my husband's grandmother, and I've been a part of her family since I joined it.
Nonna is quite the amazing Calabrese lady. She is a young 87 and has 9 kids and a whole bunch of grandkids and great grand kids all over Italy (and the States). Nonna has the scoop on everyone and everybody. She keeps up to date quite efficiently and is more or less, the family hotline. You call her with your latest news, and she will make sure the message gets passed along all over Italy in a matter of minutes, minus the internet. She is a talker. A true storyteller. I remember fondly taking long car trips with her and sitting in the back seat staying awake just listening to her chatter in Calabrese dialect about the latest happenings in her world. She is as sharp as a whip and quite knowledgeable about food and traditional Calabrian recipes. She and my mother-in-law don't always see eye to eye on recipes and the way things should be done. It's always fun to watch. But this day, she was a cooperative assistant grating cheese for the lasagne and doing other things to make it all go smoothly.
Yep. That’s me on the right. Chilling after drinking a little of homemade vino. My mini paparazzo took that photo. I’m relaxing and enjoying every moment. I may have been sleeping at this point. It only takes one glass of their homemade wine to make me very sleepy! God only knows what the alcohol content is. It's like Italian moonshine, I swear!
Even Italian cats get to enjoy homemade lasagne.
Prep Time: 2-3 hours
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Ingredients (1 13x9 pan of lasagna)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup of onion chopped (you can use sweet onion or yellow onion)
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrot, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped (optional)
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (you could do a mixture of pork/beef or however you prefer)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups whole milk
- teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup chopped mozzarella cheese (or you could use shredded mozzarella)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- lasagna noodles (no boil or the boil kind or if you're daring, you could make your own)
In medium size sauce pan or a Dutch oven heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more. If you are adding the pancetta, now is the time to add it and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beef and saute, stirring frequently
Break up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer.
I simmer my ragu for about 2 hours.
white sauce (besciamella):
Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together until incorporated. The flour will be very dry. Raise the heat to medium-high and in 1/2 cup portions, gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. The besciamella will continue to thicken even when you remove from the heat. If it seems to dense, whisk in a little bit more of milk. Whisk in the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I use about 1 teaspoon of salt and a bit of the freshly ground pepper. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Spread some of the meat sauce in a rectangular baking dish. Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread some of the besciamella (white sauce) on top of the noodles, then sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles, the some more besciamella (white sauce), 1 cup meat sauce (Bolognese) and half of the remaining mozzarella. Top with the remaining noodles, then the remaining meat sauce and mozzarella. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil paper. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Bake uncovered for the remaining 15-20 minutes. Cheese should be bubbling on top.