Saturday, 18 January 2014

Homemade Lasagne Noodles and Meat Sauce

I made homemade lasagne noodles with my "Pasta Queen" noodle roller and they are simply the best!!! I may never be able to eat store bought lasagne noodles again. I have owned my pasta maker for 25 years and I have made fettuccine but I never made lasagne noodles for some reason?? I am now a convert to homemade!! Trust me it does take time and patience at first, but the payoff is so worth it. The recipe for noodles is so simple as it is made only from eggs and flour. Read directions carefully before starting is my only advice, as I made a few mistakes by not doing this.I got this recipe for the noodles from Fine Cooking magazine.  This recipe made enough noodles for two large deep dish 9x13 inch pans. I included my recipe for the meat sauce below the noodle recipe.

This recipe makes enough noodles for two deep dish pans 9x13 inches.
Noodle Recipe:
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Kosher salt
It’s important to use room-temperature eggs when making fresh pasta because they’ll be more readily absorbed by the flour.

Make the dough

Mound the flour on a clean work surface. With your hands, make a high-walled, 7- to 8-inch-diameter well in the centre of the flour. Crack the eggs into the well. With a fork, lightly beat the eggs, gradually pulling flour from the inner rim of the well into the egg, until a soft, clumpy dough begins to form. When the dough becomes difficult to work with the fork, use your hands to pull in the remaining flour from the well, kneading gently until the dough is cohesive.

Move the dough off to the side and, with a dough scraper, scrape up and discard any bits of dough stuck to the work surface. Clean your hands. Lightly dust the surface and your hands with flour and knead the dough, adding more flour as needed, until it becomes smooth, elastic, and just a bit tacky, about 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a clean towel and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Roll the dough


Don’t layer the pasta on kitchen towels if you use a scented fabric softener because the pasta will pick up the scent—use parchment instead.

Lay a clean tablecloth or several kitchen towels on a counter. Cut the dough into 6 pieces and cover with a towel. With your hands, flatten and shape one piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Dust it lightly with flour and pass it through the widest setting on the pasta machine. If the dough comes out oddly shaped, reform into a rectangle. Fold it in thirds, like a letter, and if necessary, flatten to 1/2 inch thick. Pass it through the widest setting again with the seam of the letter perpendicular to the rollers. Repeat this folding and rolling step 10 to 12 times, dusting the dough with flour if it becomes sticky.

Without folding the dough, pass it through the next setting on the pasta machine. Keep reducing the space between the rollers after each pass, lightly dusting the pasta with flour on both sides each time, until the pasta is about 1/16 inch thick and 3 inches wide.

Lay the rolled-out dough on the tablecloth. Roll out the remaining dough in the same manner. Cut each strip of dough into 11-inch lengths.
Cook the pasta

Bring a 10-quart pot of well-salted (at least 1 Tbs. salt) water to a boil over high heat. Put a large bowl of ice water near the pot of boiling water. Line a rimmed baking sheet with two clean kitchen towels or sheets of parchment and have more towels or parchment ready.

Put 3 or 4 noodles in the boiling water. Once the water returns to a boil, cook for about 30 seconds. With a large wire skimmer, carefully transfer them to the ice water to stop the cooking. Repeat with the remaining noodles.

Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water. Very gently squeeze each noodle to remove excess water and then spread it flat on the towel-lined baking sheet. Layer the noodles between clean towels (or parchment) and set aside until you’re ready to assemble the lasagne.
Make Ahead Tips

To store the pasta for up to 24 hours before assembling a lasagne, layer the cooled, cooked noodles on a baking sheet, wrap tightly with plastic, and refrigerate.

Lasagne Meat Sauce for one pan

(double for two pans)

1 pound ground beef

3-4 links hot italian sausage,remove sausage from casings

1 medium chopped yellow onion

4-5 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 28-oz. can tomato sauce, ( I used my homemade)

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

Water if needed to thin the sauce

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; more as needed

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

oregano 2 teaspoons

1 Tablespoon sugar

6 large basil leaves, chopped ( i used 2 teaspoons from the tube)
For assembly for ONE pan (double for two pans)

3 cups grated fresh mozzarella

2 cups grated Fontina

1 ½-2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Make the meat sauce

Cook ground beef and sausage in a large pot over medium heat. Drain excess oil if any. Add chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes (careful—they spatter), the crushed red pepper,sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer sauce gently. Add a little water to thin sauce if too thick. Stir in the basil and oregano. Taste sauce to ensure seasoned enough.
Assemble the lasagne

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Spread some meat sauce on the bottom of a 9x13x3-inch baking dish. Cover the sauce with a slightly overlapping layer of cooked noodles, cutting them as needed to fill any gaps. Evenly spread some more meat sauce mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with a mixture of all three cheeses. Add another layer of noodles, and repeat the layers as instructed above until your pan is almost full. You do not want to fill right to the top as the sauce will spill out while cooking.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for approximately 30- 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead Tips

You can assemble the lasagne up to 2 days ahead of baking it. Tightly wrap the baking dish in plastic and refrigerate it. Let the lasagne come to room temperature before baking it.
Make A 7-8 inch circle wall of flour on counter top.

Add 4 room temperature beaten eggs to the centre of the well.

Slowly and carefully mix egg into flour, making sure the egg doesn't run away. This is a skill that will take time to perfect.

Add flour and begin kneading the dough. Add a little flour at a time.

Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, elastic and a but tacky adding flour a little at a time.

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Turn up the music and have a little fun!

Ahh.. finally a smooth , elastic and a little tacky ball of dough... how beautiful. Let it rest covered with a tea towel for about twenty minutes.

Divided rested dough into 6 portions. Cover the portions you are nit rolling out so they don't dry up! Roll one portion into a flat 1/2 inch thick rectangle and roll it into the pasta machine on the widest setting.
This is what it should look like after the first pass in the pasta roller.

Fold it into thirds like a letter.

Pass it through the roller again using the widest setting. Fold into thirds again and repeat about ten more times. Again turn the music up and have fun!!

Once you finished passing it through the widest setting 10-12 times. It is now time to put through the rest of the settings. No more folding, just passing it through each setting until the pasta is nice and thin. I stopped at setting 6.

Cut into sheets that will fit your pan.

Add one tablespoon of Kosher salt to a big pot of water. Boil 3-4 noodle lengths a a time.

Fill a large bowl full of cold water, add ice.

Put noodles into ice water to stop the cooking process.

Place on sheets lined with parchment paper and continue this process until all the dough has been rolled into lasagne sheets. Layer noodles in-between parchment so they do not stick together. 
Cook and brown Italian sausage and ground beef. Remove excess fat if any.

Add chopped onions.

Add garlic.

Add tomato sauces and seasonings. Simmer. Add water if sauce is too thick.

Add basil. Fresh is best but I couldn't find any fresh so I added basil paste.

Add oregano. Taste and season more if necessary.

This is a deep dish lasagne pan
Cover bottom of pan with meat sauce. Place noodles over top.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Layer more noodles over top of cheese.

Add sauce over top of noodles.

Sprinkle with more cheese. Continue until your pan is almost full. Cover with tin foil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove tin foil and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes.
Remove from oven. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve. 

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