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4.34 from 3 votes

Lasagna Bolognese with Fontina Béchamel

Prep Time4 hrs
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time4 hrs 40 mins
Course: Italian
Servings: 8 -10
Author: Emily Clifton- Nerds with Knives (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Anne Burrell and Bon Appetit)

Ingredients

For the bolognese:

  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef chuck
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 4 oz. pancetta or bacon finely chopped
  • 1 14.5- oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta (if you're making from scratch)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the fontina béchamel:

  • 1 stick 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups Fontina grated (about 6oz)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:

  • 2 cups parmesan grated

Special equipment:

  • A pasta maker/roller see link in text above

Instructions

To make the bolognese:

  • Combine the vegetables and garlic in a processor and mix until they’re finely chopped (just a few pulses should do it).
  • Heat a large Dutch oven or saucepan on the stovetop, add the oil, and once hot, add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until soft and starting to brown a bit. (10-15 minutes).
  • Add the pork and beef (and pancetta or bacon, if using) and cook until brown. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon as you stir if it's getting dark. (15 mins). Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another few minutes. Add the liquid ingredients - red wine first, allowing to reduce for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, milk and stock. Add the bay leaves.
  • Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 2 - 3 hours, stirring occasionally. You may need to add more chicken stock (or water) if the sauce starts to get too dry. When it’s done, fish out the bay leaves and leave to cool for 20 minutes (refrigerate when cool if assembling lasagna the next day).

For the lasagna noodles (if you’re making it yourself).

  • Combine the flour, eggs and salt in a food processor. (You can do this by hand if you’re feeling enthusiastic!). Mix until it starts to come together (test it with your hands). If it doesn’t stick, add a little water (just a couple of teaspoons at a time). Remove from the processor and work it into a ball on a floured surface. Let rest for an hour under a bowl or in cling wrap at room temperature.
  • Once it’s rested, separate into several equal pieces (about 1/2 cup each) and run them through your pasta roller. Start with the widest setting, running through at least a couple of times, before moving to the next level.
  • When starting out, it’s better to work the dough through a few times on the widest setting (0 or 1). Run it through once, then refold the dough, turn it 90 degrees, and run it through again. Repeat a few times, and then just run it through at this setting without folding. You should start to feel the dough turning “plastic” and smooth. Once you get to this stage, move the rollers together one level and run it through again. You can add a little flour if the strip is sticking to the roller too much.
  • Repeat a couple of times at each level before moving down to the next. Don’t be tempted to skip levels! We stopped at level 6 (out of 9) but your preference, expertise, and machine may vary.
  • Lay the rolled noodle onto your floured surface and cut to fit your lasagna dish (probably around 10 inches). You can be very approximate with noodle lengths, since you can easily cut pieces to fit into a layer (nobody will know!)
  • Stack the noodles between floured wax paper when you’ve made more than you can fit on your countertop.

To make the béchamel sauce:

  • On medium heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour, stir and cook for a minute. Add 1/4 cup of the milk in a slow drizzle, whisking constantly until smooth. Add another 1/4 cup and whisk until smooth. Then add the rest and whisk again.
  • Add the salt, garlic, nutmeg and few grinds of black pepper, bring the mixture to a lower simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and stir in fontina, a handful at a time, until melted (if it doesn't fully melt, turn on low heat and stir until just melted and smooth). Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Assembling:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a 9×13-inch rectangular baking dish, spread 1/4 cup of the béchamel (to keep noodles from sticking to the bottom). Add the first pasta layer, cutting pieces as needed to fill the dish. Ladle 1 generous cup bolognese sauce over the noodles, spreading it evenly. Drizzle 1/2 cup béchamel over the bolognese (don't worry about smoothing it out) . Sprinkle the layer with 1/3 cup parmesan cheese.
  • Repeat this process (pasta, bolognese, béchamel, parmesan) until the dish is filled (you might get 4 or 5 layers) and end with a layer of pasta. Spread over a 1/4 cup of the béchamel(or whatever you have left) and sprinkle 1/3 cup parmesan.
  • Bake for around 40 minutes until bubbly and browned on top. Let t sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with salad straight out of a box because honestly, you’ll be too exhausted to make anything else. And wine. Lots of wine.

Notes

Note: Since there are several major components of this recipe, you might want to cook the sauce the day before you make the pasta and béchamel. If you do, refrigerate the sauce overnight (once it’s cool). The next day, warm it up slowly (it doesn't need to be hot, just warm). If you decide to make everything on one day, you will very likely need a couple of helpers (one person can start prepping the sauce while you make dough, and the dough can rest while the sauce simmers).
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