3.27.2009

Daring Baker March Challenge

Lasagna of Emilia-Romagna

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge. I had wanted to make some home-made pasta for quite some time and the March Challenge gave me the kick-start to finally get out that rolling pin. As I have only a small casserole, I decided to make a half batch of lasagna, and a full batch of ragu to eat during the following week.

Mise en place for the ragu (sans milk and olive oil)

I started by making the ragu on a Saturday for the lasagna to be served for lunch dinner on Sunday. (hint: this recipe demands a serious investment of time) Cutting the meat by hand seemed like a good idea to give the lasagna some texture. Which it really did. There were no problems with disturbing the pasta sheets either, but that is probably due to my not-as-thin-as-might-be pasta.

Pasta dough

On Sunday I made the pasta dough which came together easily, aided by an additional egg. Rolling the pasta by hand requires a fair bit of work area, so clear your benchtop in advance. (But don't bother to clean your kitchen floor, as you are sure to end with some flour or scraps of pasta on the floor.) The dough was very flexible and wouldn't tear. But I didn't really try to stretch it to read-through thinness. Holding it up to a window and being able to clearly make out the spinach bits against the surrounding dough was enough, as the day was already progressing fast.


Drying the pasta

I used a laundry rack covered with cling-film to dry (or rather temporarily store) the pasta. You can actually see a learning curve from my first try on the top-right to the last piece at the bottom. After cooking a bit of pasta for testing, blanching in an ice bath and subsequent drying on paper kitchen towels, there was some white-ish goo on the pasta. The main batch of the pasta I let just drip-dry from my hands after the cooling step. The assembly went smoothly. I was a bit short on the bechamel, maybe I made it to thick. Also be generous on the nutmeg, as the flour will absorb some before the taste becomes noticeable in the final dish.

Lasagna straight from the oven

For baking I covered the lasagna with some parchment paper as there was no tinfoil in the house, frantic last minute search or no. (I could have sworn I bought a new package just a couple of days ago.)

Will I make lasagna by hand again? Probably not. Even though it's not an overly involved recipe, it just uses up to big a time-slot. Will I make hand-made pasta again? Oh, absolutely. Using a pasta rolling machine it should be possible to get a meal on the table in say 75 to 90 min (including the 30 min dough rest) which seems pretty do-able on a weekend. I enjoyed the ragu with some sour cream and store-bought pasta on the next two evenings.

Thanks a lot to our three hosts this month for presenting us with this excellent baking/cooking/ oh-what-the-heck-it-was-fun Challenge.

Head over to the Daring Bakers Blogroll for the fabulous results of my fellow Daring Bakers. Maybe you would also like to come over to the spanking new Daring Kitchen and say hello.

19 comments:

Lisa Michelle said...

I loved reading about your whole process! Major space needed for homemade pasta, indeed! Your lasagna turned out fantastic and I love that you cut up meat instead of using grouhd meat, for texture in the sauce. Smart move to make extra to enjoy post lasagna! Awesome job all around!

BC said...

Luckily, gluten free pasta is even faster. No resting time is necessary and no reworking or folding dough.

It is time concuming. You can freeze sheets between cling form wrap... and use a pasta machine.

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and the lasagne looks delicious. I thought of using my clothes rack as well but in the end used my oven trays to dry out the pasta.

MeetaK said...

oh i love the way you dried the pasta!! great going!

Lauren said...

Mmm, your lasagne looks amazing =D!!

Kat said...

Nice idea with the clothes, I mean drying rack! It sounds like the cut up meat gave a wonderful texture. I used the food processor, but did not pulse too much. Great job on the challenge!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Serious investment of time !! now there's an understatement;)) I'm with you, it's the pasta roller for me next time but the noodles are seriously good with the spinach and I do think I'll do them a number of ways.
Clothes rack, how creative and excellent.

Elle said...

Great post! Really captures the experience, including the bits of pasta on the floor :). Your pasta looks very thin to me and the lasagna looks yummy.

Angela said...

Oooh, the clothes airer is a fantastic space-saving idea! I love it!

Your lasagne looks fantastic---congratulations!

alana said...

Great Job. I'm a big fan of making past, and I can say with a crank machine I can get dinner out in 30-40 minutes, so I very much support your new found enthusiasm!

Aparna said...

It was a learning experience, wasn't it? Clothes rack is a good idea.
I made an egg-free version in a food processor, so it took a little less time.

ice tea: sugar high said...

hahhaa. love how you dry your lasagna. Great job on the lasagna. They looked great!

Susan said...

I think I would hand-cut some of the meat next time too. Very nice lasagna!

Dragon said...

Your lasagna turned out wonderfully!

The Benny's said...

Good job! I never thought of using my laundry rack instead of all the charirs in the house! Thanks for the tip.

Audax said...

What a smart idea of the drying clothes horse. This is one great recipe. Bravo on a great result.

Melinda said...

Loved your lasagna and loved your ingenuity in using the clothes rack to dry the pasta sheets! Great job!

zorra said...

Gute Idee den Wäscheständer als "Pastatrockner" zu verwenden. Ich hatte glücklicherweise noch Ragu im Gefrierschrank und habe auch die Pasta nicht gekocht, so gings schneller.

glamah16 said...

This was time consuming but worth it. A great exercise for all of us. Good job.