Monday, May 24, 2010

Long Weekend Projects

Some work on installing a new deck for the summer. Others - it is working on a painting.
For me, it's building a 20-odd layer lasagne.

Yes. You read that right - 20+ layers of noodle-y goodness packed into a casserole dish.

The mothership was having her regular pals over for the time-honoured traditional game that involves pushing ceramic tiles around a square board and clucking on about their lives. And it was my Spoonerly duties to provide sustenance for their day-long gab fest. I usually take this opportunity to make something special - it is not that often that I am able to execute a full menu - starter-main-dessert, and I usually provide a snack (and sometimes) and lunch for the ladies - so it's a day of work for this Spoon!

I was inspired by a post on the Kitchn website featuring a 100-layer lasagne (at a New York restaurant). There was no way I was going to be able to make a 100-layer lasagne, but 20? I could do that.

Step 1 - Make your noodles
Store-accessible noodles are much too thick for this project. You need thin enough noodles that it won't overwhelm the fillings and sauce - the only way to do this is to crank them out yourself.

Step 2 - Strategize your fillings
What kind of sauces are you going to use? Marinara-cheese only? Meat sauce? I decided to go with different fillings for almost every layer (repeated with ricotta, meat sauce and marinara).

Step 3 - Make your fillings (if needed)
Obviously - you can go store-bought all the way, I went with only the tomato sauce being purchased but everything else being prepared.

Step 4 - Cook your noodles!
I tried the whole 'no cook' noodle thing - didn't like it.

Step 5 - Mise en place and Assembly
Lay everything out strategically. I suggest noodles on one side and all your fillings at arms reach around the other side. Keep a paring knife handy in case you need to trim any noodles (if homemade). Lots of spoons. Lots. I would also highly recommend writing out the order of your fillings to keep organized.

In selecting an appropriate pan - DEPTH is as important as width/length.

Step 6 - Bake 'n Cool
I cannot stress enough the importance of cooling your lasagne. Cut in it too soon after taking it out of the oven and it will literally "break" - your fillings will slip 'n slide and any excess moisture will pool, making each portion a sloppy mess.

Step 7 - Step back and take in the glory, that is your lasagne!

*yes, I baked it in a round casserole - I didn't have a deep enough rectangular/square dish, so everyone got a 'slice' of lasagne!

(le nez, or "the nose")

-meat sauce
-ricotta (mixed with one egg, herbs, cheese)
-zucchini (peeled thin, sauteed gently)
-cremini mushrooms (sauteed with onions)
-pine nuts (toasted, pureed)
-grilled red peppers (peeled and pureed)
-spinach (chopped, cooked and drained)
-meat sauce

Believe it or not, I forgot a couple of fillings! (pesto and pulled pork) I also had enough noodles and leftover sauce to make a mini-lasagne in a loaf pan.

After this, I don't think I'll be attempting a 100-layer project.

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