Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brian’s Poultry-Italian Sausage Lasagna


This dish was inspired by a the Italian Sausage Lasagna recipe from Betty Crocker.

Ingredients

Lasagna Sauce
1 lb Poultry Italian Sausage (hot, mild, or a combination of the two)
1 medium onion (diced)
1/2 Green bell pepper (diced)
5 crushed cloves of garlic (more or less to taste)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
3 tbsp of chopped fresh basil (more or less to taste)
1 tsp sugar
28 oz of diced plum tomatoes (skin and seeds included)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce

Ricotta Mixture
1 16oz container ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
Pepper to taste

Remaining Ingredients
2 cups (or more as needed) shredded mozzarella

Lasagna Noodles
4 cups Semolina Flour (or Pasta Flour, whichever it’s called) plus more on reserve
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups water (plus more in reserve)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Cooking Method
Initial Step: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Lasagna Sauce
1. In a large pot, saute sausage, onion, garlic, and green pepper in EVOO on low heat until sausage is cooked through. Makes sure sausage is broken into small pieces.
2. Add sugar, basil, oregano, tomatoes and tomato sauce, then simmer, covered, about 45 minutes
3. Add parsley, salt, and pepper (to taste) then remove from heat

Ricotta Mixture
1. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, oregano, and pepper until combined.

Lasagna Noodles
1. Thoroughly wash hands!
2. Add semolina flour and spices to a large bowl
3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture using your hand
4. Pour the beaten eggs and water into the flour well
5. Gradually combine the dry and wet ingredients until a cohesive dough-ball is formed
6. Spread a handful of flour onto a clean surface in preparation for kneading the dough
7. Turn the dough ball out onto the floured surface
8. Knead the dough until the outer surface of the dough is smooth (5 to 7 minutes). The dough is properly formed if it does not stick to your hands at the end of kneading. 
9. When finished kneading, separate the dough into two equal parts
10. Set one part of the dough aside and roll out the other part of the dough into a 1/8-1/16 inch sheet, routinely flipping the sheet of dough during the flattening process and rolling on both sides
NOTE: I recommend dusting the surface of the dough with flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or the surface
11. Cut 3in x 12in noodles from the flattened sheet. You should get three or so noodles from this sheet
12. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other half of the dough
13. Combine all of the dough scraps into a ball and roll out to make additional noodles
14. If not cooking immediately, dry the noodles on a floured baking sheet. Place a clean kitchen towel between layers of noodles on the same sheet
15. To cook, boil 8 quarts of water then place three noodles, maximum, in the water at a time.
16. Cook the noodles until al dente, about 10 minutes
17. Set aside until ready to assemble lasagna

Lasagna Assembly
1. Grease a 13in x 9in x 2in baking pan
2. Spread ½ of ricotta mixture on the bottom of the pan
3. Add a layer of 3 noodles
4. Spoon sauce over the first noodle layer until the noodles are just about covered(be sure not to drown the noodles in sauce!)
5. Add a layer of shredded mozzarella in the same manner as you would a pizza
6. Add a second layer of noodles, followed by a layer of the remaining ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella
7. Add a final layer of noodles, a layer of sauce and a layer of mozzarella
8. Cover with foil and place on the middle rack in the oven and bake 30 minutes
9. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes
10. Remove from the oven and let cook at least 15 minutes
NOTE: It is best to let the cheese set for a while before cutting so it holds together. The lasagna will remain hot for a long time after removing from the oven.

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