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- I'm rollin' up my sleeves for this.
[funky guitar music]
All right, so this is BA's best lasagna.
This is our deep dive into the world
of more of a traditional lasagna,
which has a Ragu bolognese as your kind of meat sauce
in there as well as bechamel and noodles.
Now, today, you know, we're not making our own noodles.
Honestly, I found that, you know,
store-bought noodles perform, you know,
perfectly adequately using d'czecho lasagna sheets,
which are kind of like a nice sort of, you know,
little bit like of a wider, you know,
rectangle that works like really well.
And we're just gonna jump right into it
because we gotta, we gotta jam here.
There's a lot to get through.
The first thing and the the underpinning of this lasagna
and for me, most lasagnas, is the sauce.
It is a Ragu bolognese,
so this one is a mixture of beef and pork.
Andy and I have had a lot of back-and-forths about,
you know, bolognese, there's infinite variations,
but all of them involve some kind of combination
of meats long-cooked in vary often tomato,
but not necessarily always some kind of tomato product,
and stock and some kind of dairy product,
whether it's milk or cream.
So, I'm just gonna get right into it
and I'm gonna talk you through it as we go.
So, it's a little unorthodox.
Just gonna get that right out of the way.
I'm seasoning this liberally with salt.
I'm gonna combine these meats.
I'm not really worried about making it super even,
that's not what this is about.
I'm gonna brown the meat in ball form.
The reason being that in ball form,
I can brown all of this meat in two batches
very, very, very easily.
And actually develop great color on the outside of the meat
without overcooking the majority of it.
- [Producer] What car would the two of you drive
in a buddy cop movie?
- Oh.
I feel like this is a little out of character,
but I feel like I'm thinkin' like cop, you know?
I think we would be in like,
like a cool, like, Dodge Challenger, you know?
Like, black, like, understated, you know?
I didn't hear the sizzle.
I'm not gonna sit here and start making bad decisions.
All right.
If the meat's not browning, what's the point?
What was it that John Oliver said the other night?
The reason why we can brown this meat
so much more efficiently in ball form is obviously,
it's a question of, you know,
the contact area of the portion of meat
that's actually in contact with the surface, right?
And there's nice gaps in between the balls, right?
So all the steam can kinda come out of the pan.
We're not tryin' to cook the meat through in its entirety,
it's gonna cook through in the braising process.
We just want the benefit of all of the flavor development
that happens when it picks up color here, okay?
I'm gonna wash my hands, don't go anywhere.
Like, that's like, you know,
about the minimum I'm looking for, all right?
That there, that's ideal.
You know, don't try to force it along.
You don't wanna scorch all of the beautiful fond
that you're creating in the bottom of this pan.
All those brown bits, that is where the flavor is, okay?
Don't want this to be crazy hot when the pancetta goes in,
but it's probably about as good.
We're gonna get it, you know,
lightly browned, a little crispy, render out the fat.
The power of a cured pork product
to impart massive amounts of flavor to something,
that's just about where we need it to be.
It's gonna continue to cook a little bit
along with a onion.
Carrot, you know, I'm not a big believer
in carrot, you know, in any kind of pasta sauce in general,
but in bolognese, it just belongs.
It's like the celery.
It just gives a very well-rounded base
of vegetable aromatics.
Crank up the heat a little bit.
At this point, I'm gonna also season this
with a little extra salt.
Salt is gonna help draw moisture from these vegetables,
help them cook out a little bit more quickly.
And we're building kind of successive waves of flavor.
I'm not gonna lie, you know,
this is a recipe with a lot of steps.
The sauce, just as its own thing,
it's incredibly manageable.
You know, the sauce will freeze for months in the freezer.
There is an alchemy to the way pasta behaves
when cooked with a layer of bechamel on it.
There is a creaminess that you get
from bechamel in a lasagna
that cannot simply be replicated by adding cheese
or anything else, okay?
You can see the vegetables' colorant is intensifying,
they're softening.
My dad would make, you know,
a version of this sauce out of the Marcella Hazan,
I think it's "Essentials of Italian Cooking."
And you would get that smell,
my room in high school was like
all the way up in the third floor of our house,
in the attic, and you know,
by about like hour number two,
the smell would've wafted its way all the way up to my room,
you know, where I was like, locked in there,
hangin' out with Andy, painting our nails black,
listening to The Cure.
You know, drawing pentagrams on shit, all right?
And it was like magic.
So, this is Mutti brand double-concentrated tomato paste
in the tube.
Do we have the tube of tomato paste over there?
- [Man] Oh my God!
- Spoon down!
All right, so this is, sorry, I got off topic.
Mutti brand double-concentrated tomato paste in the tube.
I'm not really looking for browning on these vegetables,
I just want them to be very, very soft.
You don't wanna put all this liquid in
and then put the tomato paste in after, right?
The tomato paste, it's imperative it goes on top
of the aromatics so that it can cook out.
At the point that the wine goes in,
this is never really gonna be
above the temperature of a simmer, right?
The oil that's in there now is frying the paste out
at a higher temperature than it could ever reach
in the presence of water.
Might sound complicated, just bear with me, it makes sense.
So, the wine, on its own,
this is gonna add acidity to the sauce,
and we want the wine to cook out on its own,
so that the alcohol can be driven off.
Concentrated flavor.
Then, so what I like to do,
is I'll hold these back, add some of this liquid in,
so that can start concentrating
while I work on breaking up these tomatoes.
Yeah, make sure you have a very clean cut
if you can, you know?
No jagged edges.
So this has gotta cook down.
It's gonna be about eight to 10 minutes, okay?
I'm gonna push it along at a good clip.
All right, see how the tomato,
it's almost at the point where
it's kind of frying as much as it's simmering.
Does that make sense?
Okay, so, it's at the point where it's almost like
the fat that's in here is almost separating out
from the liquid.
And then just hit it with a little bit of salt here.
So this is tasting pretty bright,
but obviously it's gonna go into the oven
with all that meat, and it's gonna balance right out.
Low sodium chicken broth,
and a cup of whole milk.
Meatballs goin' in with all that liquid.
All right, so I just want it to return
to a good simmer before I put it in the oven.
If I were doing this just for a bolognese,
I probably would not have put so much tomato in there,
but there's something about lasagna
that I feel like you want a little bit more
of a tomato forward sauce.
Cover is goin' on slightly ajar.
And into a 225-degree oven.
Next step, bechamel.
Sounds complicated, it's not.
So, rue plus milk, bechamel.
All right, so I've got six tablespoons of butter here.
Once the butter is all completely melted,
then you can put your seven tablespoons
of all-purpose flour in.
There is an incredible flavor development
that happens when you toast flour.
It's incredible.
Another minute.
In the meantime, I've got water coming up
for our lasagna sheets.
Milk's going in,
just whisk very vigorously as the milk goes in,
try not to make a massive mess as I have.
All right, so I'm gonna crank that up,
the reason being that there's no danger
of spoiling the milk here, right?
So, the starch needs to come to a boil to fully hack,
so they have to fully thicken the sauce.
So the sooner we can get there, the better.
boiling salted water.
Can use a little more salt in there.
Boom, okay.
I'm adding the pasta sheets one by one, okay?
The reason being, I wanna kinda be stirring
and agitating as they go in
so that they don't stick together.
That's the tricky thing with lasagna noodles.
They really, really, really, really, really, really,
really, I'm nervous, I'm gonna cook these in two batches.
We could've used like maybe a slightly bigger pot
or something, but I think it's just like,
it's asking for trouble.
- [Andy] You were intending to include bechamel, right?
- No, who was it that-- - Brad!
- Brad doesn't believe in the bechamel, yes.
- The guy made manicotti without bechamel.
Okay, so see how this is very flexible,
but ultimately, when I bend it,
it kind of like has a tendency
to wanna kind of almost snap.
That's great, that's exactly what we want.
That was three minutes.
Uh-oh, man down.
Ah, two of 'em stuck together,
but honestly, if a couple stick together,
that's no big deal, just move on with the rest.
So I'm gonna lay out these sheets of pasta
in between pieces of parchment.
You could use wax paper.
Basically, you don't wanna keep them in the water
for too long because they will continue to absorb it.
You don't wanna stack them on top of each other
because they'll start to stick to each other.
All right, so I'm gonna turn this down.
Water is back.
Gonna that let go about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Second round of pasta goin' in.
All right, so bechamel has been cooking
10 minutes plus, I'd say.
It sort of thickened, it's concentrated,
I need to get the Parmesan in there.
Nutmeg with bechamel is just kinda traditional.
Cayenne just gives a little bit of lift.
Not so much that it's spicy,
just has a tendency to wake foods up.
So, the sauce has been rollin'
very slow, lazy bubbles.
This is not an active boil situation.
See how that meat,
it goes from ball to not at all, you know?
And this is just breaking it up,
mashing it lightly is gonna integrate, you know,
the solid and liquid elements of this sauce
and bringing it together.
Just a little layer of oil,
just so we don't get any stickage in here.
The order is--
I immediately thought-- - Yes!
- The order is engage caterpillar drive, no.
Sorry, just immediately went
to "Hunt for Red October" on you.
This is a little bit of like a,
I'd rather have, like, you know,
five layers of everything,
then you know, that are kind of like each a little bit thin
than like three massive layers, you know?
I'll do the right thing and trim
just a little strip from the next one.
I just find that the d'czecho is good like that, you know?
You can just easily cut strips.
It's just, it's a little bit wider,
it's a little bit more forgiving in the assembly process.
The next time, maybe I'll go this way, you know?
I like to vary it up, that way, you know,
each piece has like an architecture
of kind of interlocking and overlapping, you know,
kind of pieces of pasta.
Now here's where the magic happens.
It's pretty silent here.
I don't even wanna talk, I'm concentrating right now.
Then we repeat with Ragu.
So then, I'm gonna change the direction of the pasta, okay?
[funky guitar music]
We're gonna throw this in the oven at 425,
just to crisp the top up, all right?
And take this baby home.
That's gonna be a full 10 to 15, all right?
All right, so that's it.
We're good.
- [Producer] I also read that it needs to sit
for 10 minutes before serving.
- You don't wanna serve this ripping hot
because frankly, you wanna give it a sec
to have all the kinda liquid,
everything rebalance in there
so you can get a nice, clean slice out of it.
All right.
I've got one slice taken out.
And I'm gonna do a couple more
just so they can start to cool down.
- I'm really very happy
'cause I'm a corner piece type of guy.
- Oh, I mean, I don't know who isn't a corner piece
kind of individual, boom!
- And there are no notes.
That's good, that's good.
- And it holds together, you know?
- I remember eating lasagna growing up,
and I would just, the smell was so intense,
I'd wanna eat it right away,
and I would always burn like right in here.
- Oh yeah, scorch. - Always!
I just love how rich and velvety and creamy it is,
the whole thing.
- Honestly, I just wanna point out, like,
there's something that the bechamel allows that pasta to do
where it's exposed the way they buckle up
and get crispy and turn into like a cracker.
Maybe just a pinch of salt.
You're good?
- I didn't say that.
Yeah, a pinch of salt.
- Okay, but maybe just a pinch of salt.
We were both thinking it, but it's cool.
Andy was being polite.
It's fine, it's fine, we're partners.
Bad boys for life.
- I meant it, bad boys for life.
- We ride together, we die together.
[funky band music]