The night my pal and I drove back to her home from The Big City, we called in to her husband to let him know where we were at and also to see what he wanted us to pick up for supper. I didn’t care much what we had. I just wanted lots of it!!
Yes, I was THAT hungry. We had eaten a fabulous breakfast/lunch at the Brooklyn Diner which was just down the road from our hotel. But that was a looooong time ago.
Oh…gotta tell you about the diner… The first thing we saw when we walked into the diner was Representative Peter King sitting in a booth. This is one huge dude! But had it not been for my buddy, I would’ve walked right past him as seeing him or anyone else hadn’t crossed my boggled mind. Check. My first candid/serendipitous celeb sighting in NYC! I did see Carl Rove once when I was flying out of Wichita for ChristyFest. And hub ran into Pat Buchanan once years ago when we were flying out of Memphis.
Where was I? Oh. Food. So Pat and I settled into teensy spot where the aisle was about 1 foot wide and we ordered “Tony Bennett’s” Famous Thick-Cut Cinnamon-Raisin & Pecan French Toast and a Classic Omelet, with Crispy Polenta on the side. Yowzer!!! We’re talking serious goodness with a sizable dose of calories. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee!
We met the nicest little English family with a cutie patootie 11 month old. Dad had participated in the New York Marathon the day before and they were reluctantly flying home the next day. They LOVED the USA!
Uhh…I keep getting sidetracked…back to Mr. Dan… So we’re talking to The Man and he says, “Don’t bother with supper. I have it made already.” Seriously. And it’s…hold on…wait for it…LASAGNA!!! My most favorite thing in the ENTIRE WORLD!!! Yay me! Score again!!
This is not just your everyday, ordinary lasagna. The entire dish is from scratch. Well, he didn’t make the pasta. Or the cheese. But he’s very particular about both. I was seriously hungry when we finally got seated in the kitchen and we couldn’t pray fast enough so I could dig in! Oh. Major yummmm!!
He told me the greatness of his lasagna is in the sauce. I believe him, yes I do! I couldn’t bear to admit that my lasagna making of the past included jars of pizza sauce or whatever I had on hand…tomato sauce, juice, paste, ketchup…no I’m kidding about the ketchup. I think. I don’t remember ever being THAT desperate?!
So his recipe isn’t too far off of the path of the lasagna that appears in almost every cookbook in the world. His secret is mainly in the quality of ingredients. Which scared me. He had NO idea how hard it is to find some of the cheeses and sausage in western Kansas. So with Dan’s permission and Pat’s help, here is….TA DA!!!!!!!!….. a family recipe handed down from an Irish aunt who married an Italian and the rest is history!
Dan’s Killer Lasagna
*joy to the world* and can I get an amen?!
You will need:
A large pan (12″ x 16-18″)
2 lbs. of lasagna pasta, at least (we undercook the pasta — al dente; it doesn’t rip so easily and finishes cooking in the oven –); olive oil in the boiling water for slippery noodles; then layered on a pan after a quick cold rinse; saran wrap between layers of pasta ‘in waiting’.
Great Sauce (Not watery and the thicker the better) , sautéed garlic base: Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, pinch of sugar?)
Ground Angus Beef (browned and drained) 2-3 lbs. ( Great choice!!!!)
Good Italian Sausage (browned and drained) 8 – 10 links sliced (The WalMart meat market guy had NO idea where it was. Took me 10 minutes to find it ON MY OWN.)
Lots of Ricotta Cheese: 2 + lbs. Sorento or any good brand. (add 1- 2 eggs [acts like a glue] and Italian seasoning and generous helping of Parmesan cheese, about 1 cup)
My note: Get the good stuff re: Ricotta and Parmesan… and I always add some fresh parsley. Lots of fresh Mozzarella Cheese: 2+ lbs …again, don’t skimp on this. I discovered fresh mozzarella about 3 years ago. Sad but true.
Prepare: Sauté minced fresh garlic in olive oil being careful not to burn. When lightly brown, add crushed canned tomatoes (4 – 28 oz.), puree (2 – 28 oz.) sauce ( 2 jars/cans – 28 oz. ) and tomato paste (if needed to thicken). Brown beef and sausage; drain. Let meat simmer in sauce uncovered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or so; allow to cool down somewhat while pasta is ‘under-cooking’.
Prep: layer pasta ‘in waiting’
Layer in lasagna pan: sauce first (enough to keep layers moist, but not dripping wet), pasta, generous blobs of Ricotta and mozzarella cheeses; more sauce, pasta, cheese, etc. repeat until there is still enough sauce and cheese for the very top layer. (the more mozzarella the better on top!)
Cover with foil loosely and bake at 350 ° for 1 1/2 hours;
Uncover and cook 35 to 45 minutes; melting cheese on top.
This will taste good day one, but even better on day two!