Did you know Friday was International Port Wine Day? It was. And what does this have to do with meat lasagna you ask? Well I’ll tell ya. There was a free port tasting at my local Binny’s Beverage Depot, the one in Lakeview that looks like a castle. For my non-Chicago readers Binny’s is a Chicagoland beer/wine/liquor emporium. The one nearest to us is pretty huge and they have a good wine selection. Occasionally they send out specials on a wine of the week where you can order (sometimes pre-order) and make pick-ups at the store. Cheryl and I practically stocked our wine rack for Christmas with some of their deals. Anyway, back to the story.
My friend Erik’s a big fan of port so we went to the tasting. Of course being Friday there was also another tasting happening as well. One with some Italian wine, where I tasted La Maialina, a “more modern” 2007 chianti riserva. “More modern” because it had some merlot and cabernet sauvignon blended in with the sangiovese. Tasting the sample I was immediately struck at how delicious it would be with food, especially a Ragu Bolognese. And with this revelation I knew Sunday dinner would be made around this wine.
I decided to make lasagna mostly because Cheryl hasn’t had mine yet. Nope, never made it for her in all these years. One reason is because she said she’d had too many bad ones. Either too dry or too wet, never a good balance. Sounds like too much ricotta to me. When I told her I was making lasagna for Sunday dinner she was hesitant, and asked how I could make it so it wasn’t dry and bland. “I make it with a meat sauce” I said. “Oh, well that should definitely make it better,” she replied. It sure does.
This Sunday dinner has a few steps in it. The first is making the Ragu Bolognese. You’ll remember this from one of my earlier posts. Make this first and when you’re an hour into the simmer make your pasta dough. Then you can let it rest for an hour in the fridge while the sauce finishes and when that’s done roll out the dough. If you’re rolling out your own pasta (not required, you can use the boxed lasagna) use the same dough ratio as the ravioli one (9 oz flour, 3 large eggs). Then all you need is some ricotta and mozzarella.
Oh, and Cheryl loved it. I have a feeling this dish may be requested more in the future. Also, the wine was an excellent pairing. They complimented each other so well.
Lasagna with meat sauce
- 1 recipe of Ragu Bolognese
- 1 recipe of pasta dough rolled out to setting 5 and sheets cut in half lengthwise; or 9-12 pieces of dried lasagna
- 16 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- Salt to taste
- 8 oz mozzarella – shredded or sliced
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your lasagna. I always cook a few extra pieces just in case for filler. Once cooked, remove and drain.
Mix the oregano, parsley, salt, and ricotta together (do I need to say…truffle salt works here too).
Take a 9×12 baking dish and thinly coat the bottom with some sauce. Layer the cooked lasagna sheets over the sauce. Use as many as needed to make one layer. I needed about 2-½ strips of my rolled out pasta. If memory serves me correctly it should take about 3 pieces of dried lasagna to cover the width of the baking dish. Spread some of the ricotta mixture on top of the pasta. Cover the ricotta with some sauce. Add another layer of pasta sheets. Repeat the cheese, sauce layer. And one more time, pasta sheet, cheese, sauce.
I add a couple leftover strips of pasta to the top and then put the sliced/shredded mozzarella on the top.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375° for 40 mins. Take aluminum foil off for last 10 mins. Allow to cool slightly. Cut and serve.