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Saturday, June 11, 2011

LASAGNA FOR A CROWD

I didn't take photos while I was preparing this huge recipe of lasagna...but I'll tell you, it was quite the endeavor to find pans in my house large enough to do the deed!  I wasn't going to do a post, but I decided I would so I could share what I found out through the process.  Little things like "don't overfill the pan if you have to travel with it"...duh!

I made a quadruple recipe of lasagna, tried a new dessert recipe, and I had to transport all our beach accoutrement, drinks, 5 bottles of flipflop wine, paper goods...so, needless to say, I learned a bit about how I might do it differently in the future.  So, here goes...

BIG-ASS PAN OF LASAGNA

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground chuck
2 pounds ground sirloin
3/4 really large sweet yellow onion (or 2 medium yellow onions) - diced
3-4 large garlic cloves - finely minced (I used my Martha Stewart garlic press)
4 bottles Bertolli 5-Cheese Pasta Sauce
5 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
About 1 cup of water (rinsing bottles of sauce and cans of sauce)
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder

Creamed Ricotta:
4 recipes of homemade Ricotta Cheese
1 cup fresh basil leaves
8 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1 1/2 pounds grated Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

3 Large boxes Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Lasagna Noodles - uncooked

Method:

Place olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and salt and saute until onions are nearly translucent.  Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.  Crumble in ground chuck and ground sirloin and brown.  Drain excess oil from pan and add Bertolli sauce and tomato sauce, rinsing bottles and cans with the water and adding it to the pot too. 
Add the rest of the seasonings listed in the sauce section.  Simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  This amount of sauce came to the very top of my dutch oven.  I did get a smaller sauce pan out and transferred some of the meat and onions over to cook it in two separate  pans.  It was too unwieldy in one pan.  If you have a stock pot - that would work best.

Place the ricotta cheese in the large bowl of your food processor.  Add eggs, fresh basil, salt, and Italian seasoning and pulse until creamy.  If you have really dry ricotta (as in, you let it drain more than called for in the recipe like I did), and end up with big lumps, add some whole milk or half and half and pulse until you get a creamy texture.  That really helped things along.

Set up your assembly line to prepare the lasagna.  I used a commercial catering pan that I happen to have.  A roasting pan will work also.  The pan I used was 19 1/2 inches long and 12 inches wide and 3 inches deep...4 inches deep would have been better!

Using a large ladle, scoop 1/4 of the sauce into the bottom of the pan.  Lay pieces of uncooked lasagna side by side to completely cover the bottom of the pan.  I first laid them long-ways but they didn't fit well...so I rearranged them and laid them along the 12 inch direction...and they fit perfectly.
Ladle another 1/4 of the sauce over the noodles.
Cover the sauce with dollops of 1/2 of the ricotta mixture.  It will expand - it doesn't have to be perfectly smoothed out.  Many small dollops work fine.
Layer 1/2 pound of grated Mozzarella cheese over ricotta mixture.
Gently press another layer of uncooked lasagna noodles into the cheese.
Ladle another 1/4 of the sauce over the noodles.
Cover the sauce with dollops of the rest of the ricotta mixture.
Layer 1/2 pound of grated Mozzarella cheese over the ricotta mixture.
Gently press another layer of uncooked lasagna noodles into the cheese.
Layer the last of the sauce over the noodles.
Cover the sauce with 1/2 pound of grate Mozzarella cheese.
Caution when lifting the pan into the oven.  It is extraordinarily heavy!!!  If you use a disposable pan, you MUST have something underneath it to support the weight.
Bake at 275 degrees for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
Add 1/2 of Parmesan cheese to top and bake 10 more minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting with a sharp knife and serving with a sturdy spatula/pancake turner.  Pass the extra Parmesan cheese when you serve.


It was a delicious lasagna - lots of work - but worth every minute!!!  We had a big bowl of salad and some garlic toast to go with it (yum), some tasty flipflop wines, and topped it off with a Dulce de Leche Banana Cream Pie.  Can you say "waddle"?  What is it about being at the beach, in the sun, that makes you ravenous?  Whatever - good food, good friends, good times!



Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

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