Best-Ever Lasagna
Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 12:54PM
Mark Scarbrough in Casseroles, Comfort Food, Main Courses, Pasta, casserole, comfort food, lasagna, parmesan sauce

Okay, maybe we're overselling it. Probably are. Sure, there are as many versions of lasagna as there are . . . well, since we're not Italian grandmothers, we'll say there are as many versions as there are gay couples.

What's different? No ricotta, no mozzarella, no (what the hell?) cottage cheese. (What's wrong with some people?)

And no egg. Instead, there's a Parmesan sauce to go between the layers. Seriously. See? Best ever. Well, okay, no wars. But darn good. Try it.

Before you do, listen to said podcast. It's in the media player at the top of the recipe page. Or here on iTunes. Or here on iHeartRadio. You'll laugh. Promise. Okay, not promise. But it's the best-ever podcast (by a gay couple who's written thirty cookbooks).

Best-Ever Lasagna

2 tablespoons (or so) olive oil

1 1/2 pounds mild (sometimes called "sweet") Italian sausage, casings removed (or just buy the stuff in bulk)

4 cups packed baby arugula (or baby spinach)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk (of any sort--whole, 2 percent, 1 percent, even skim)

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

6 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (divided)

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground fennel

One 1-quart jar plain marinara sauce (see NOTE)

12 no-boil lasagna noodles

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven; heat the oven to 325F.

2. Warm the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Crumble in the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any clumps, until well browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the arugula in three additions, wilting each before adding the next so as not to crowd the skillet. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour to form a thick, blond paste. Whisk until fairly smooth but do not brown. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream until well combined, then whisk in the broth until smooth.

4. Raise the heat to medium and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to bubble and thickens somewhat, a few minutes. Whisk in 4 ounces (two-thirds) of the grated cheese, as well as the nutmeg and fennel. Set aside. (Notice there's no salt here--or in the recipe at all. The sausage is salty; the cheese, too. If you're a salt fiend, you might want to stir 1/2 teaspoon table salt into this sauce--but be very careful. As we said, salty.)

5. Build the lasagna in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Spread about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into a thin layer in the bottom of the pan. Press three noodles into this, fitting them crosswise to the pan and evenly spacing them out. Spoon about 1 cup marinara over them, then top with a third of the sausage mixture and a third of the cheese sauce. Now repeat: three noodles, 1 cup marinara, half the remaining sausage mixture, and half the remaining cheese sauce. Then again: three noodles, 1 cup marinara, the rest of the sausage mixture, and the rest of the cheese sauce. Finally, lay the remaining three noodles in the casserole and spread the remaining 1/2 cup marinara sauce over the top. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the casserole.

6. Cover with parchment paper, then aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes.

7. Uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned at the edges. Set aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting the lasagna into serving pieces.

NOTE: Yes, purchased, jarred marinara sauce. Listen, you can make your own. We do every summer. And we squirrel it away in the freezer in 1-quart containers for the long, New England winter ahead. But honestly, there are some pretty good bottled varieties out there. Read those labels! You want a fairly plain sauce--without a lot of sugar, "natural flavors," or other chemical shenanigans. 

Article originally appeared on bruceandmark (http://www.bruceandmark.com/).
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