Sunday, November 7, 2010

Love 4 Lasagna: Short Rib Lasagna

Well here we are, my inaugural Love 4 Lasagna post.  This is, in fact, the lasagna that gave me the idea to start this little project.  It's different from the traditional lasagna that I grew up on and is what inspired me to get creative with lasagna. I first saw the recipe in the September 2010 issue of Bon Appetit and knew I had to try it.  First because the boy loves lasagna but also because I make a short rib ragu that I think is pretty awesome and wanted to use it the recipe.  It also seemed the perfect time because the bite of fall was upon us, a time when stew and lasagnas and other hearty stick-to-your-bones food starts to be in the forefront of my mind. 

I came up with the idea to do a lasagna challenge for November because it seems there are so many different combinations and ways you can play around with cheese, sauce and pasta, especially because if you get creative you don't even need to use actual pasta as long as you have something that serves the purpose of pasta in a traditional lasagna.  I've got a few other bloggers who have signed on to join in and we'll all be posting our recipes on each Sunday in Novemebr and I'll do a round-up of all of the posts every Monday, so stay tuned.

I tweaked the original recipe by using my own short rib ragu, which doesn't call for mushrooms and I used Fontina instead of just Parmigiano Reggiano.  I do plan on trying the recipe as written since it sounds delicious and I was beyond happy with how my version of it turned out.  I'm going to ahead and say you should just go out now and buy the ingredients for this one, don't bother adding it to a list to try, just make it.  I swear you won't regret it.  It's rich and a total indulgence but you can eat some and freeze the rest for another day or feed a crowd.   It's so an indulgence worth taking. 

Short Rib Lasagna
adapted from Bon Appetit


4 lbs of meaty short ribs
1/4 all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots - diced
2 celery stalks - diced
1 shallot - minced
2 cloves of garlic - minced
3 Tbsps tomato paste
2 Tbsps good cocoa powder
3 cups red wine
2 cups of beef stock
5 thyme sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
coarse sea salt
cracked pepper

5 tablespoons unsalted butter  
1/4 cup all purpose flour  
3 cups whole milk - room temperature
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 box of no-bake lasagna noodles - I like the ones without the ruffle at the edge, but either will work
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1. Place all-purpose flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt & pepper.  Dry the short ribs with a paper towel and dredge in the seasoned flour.  
2.  Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Place short ribs in one layer at the bottom of the pot, let sit and brown without turning for about 5 minutes.  Turn after 5 minutes or when a nice brown crust forms and continue browning.  Continue with all sides of all short ribs until completely browned.  Reserve brown ribs on a plate. 
3. Deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup of the red wine.  Once all the good browned bits are scraped up add in the carrots, celery, shallot and garlic.  Saute over medium until the onions become translucent and the carrots begin to soften. Add in the tomato paste and cocoa powder and saute for another 5 minutes.  
4.  Tie the herbs together with kitchen twine.  Add the red wine, beef stock, bouquet of herbs to the pot.  Bring to a simmer, add in the short ribs, bring the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
5.  Remove the ribs from the pot.  Taste the sauce and add salt & pepper to taste.  Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce down by 1/4.  While the sauce is reduce shred the beef and discard the bones.  Return shredded beef to reduced sauce and continuing cooking over low. 
6.  Begin preparing the bechemel by melting butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour on top, whisk to combine and let cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.   Pour in milk in an even stream whisking constantly, cook for 1-2 two minutes until begins to thicken.  Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside. 
7.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Butter a 9x15 baking dish.  Spread some of the short rib sauce over the bottom of the pan and cover with one layer of noodles, being careful not to overlap.  Top with bechemel sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Carefully ladle on more of the short rib sauce.  Repeat with another layer.  Top with one more layer of noodles.  Top the noodles with the remaining bechemel and cheese.  
8.  Bake uncovered for 45 mins or until the cheese if golden brown and the edges are bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  

To say this was a hit with the boy would be an understatement.  He generally likes anything I do with short ribs and likes lasagna so I figured this would be a winner.  As I was making the sauce, which he has had before and loved he peered in and was asked "Where are the tomatoes? I thought you were making lasagna."  When he took the first bite and then proceeded to inhale the rest of 1 serving and another I so wanted to say, "But this doesn't have a tomato sauce, I thought all good lasagna had tomato sauce." But I bit my tongue.  He has asked for this every other week since I first made it and even though I've tested a few other recipes on him since then, he still says this one is the best.   

I'm inclined to agree with him on this one and if it wasn't so rich, I would make it more often but for now I think I'll reserve this one as an occasional treat.  That's not to say I don't still dream of the beefy, cheesy, savory goodness that is this lasagna.  I've always been pro-ricotta in lasagna but this one doesn't need it, it really doesn't need anything else.  The combination of the beefy ragu with the bechemel and the tangy, salty cheese just makes my knees weak.  Amazing.

Just a reminder for all of my Toronto readers:  The Art of Cooking presents Jamie Oliver  for one night only November 18 and I get to offer you a $10 per ticket discount on General & VIP tickets and a $20 per ticket discount on groups of 5 or more.  Just click here and you will be taken to the discounted ticket page or if you go through the Art of Cooking main page just enter the discount code JN29.  It's truly a great opportunity and I hope you'll all join me.  


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