Jun 17, 2008

He: White Lasagna

So, the family has been not so happy with me and the blog. Well, they're not unhappy, more annoyed that we create all of this really cool food that they hear about over the phone and there is never a recipe put up that they can try and make. Well you people here's me making an attempt to communicate better and put up more things that you can make at home that could be healthy.
This is a fairly involved recipe for a white lasagna that you might find in northern Italy (please don't hold me to this, but the techniques are accurate to what would be done). I am going to try and demystify the recipe and the difficulty in the techniques as I go along. As always with my recipes, if something doesn't make sense email or comment and I will explain in different terms than what I have put up here.

Meat sauce ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey
2 oz. unsalted butter
2 oz. white flour
1 qt. 2% milk
2 ea. bay leaves
10 ea. whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (please don't be lazy with this one, pre-ground always tastes like sawdust)
salt to taste

cheese mixture:
1 head cauliflower (finely chopped, stem, leaves, everything)
2 bunches red chard chiffonade(cut into ribbons) leaves and stems separated
1 lb. 2% cottage cheese
2 tbsp. dry oregano
2 tbsp. dry parsley (you can use fresh on the herbs, just double the amount)
1 cup grated parmiggiano reggiano
3 ea. large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil (divided into 2 tbsp. increments)
salt to taste

assembly ingredients:
1 lb. low fat mozzarella (sliced)
2 lb. lasagna noodles
sea salt to boil with the water for the noodles (1 tbsp per gallon of water)

To make the meat mix:
1) Brown the meat in a saute pan on medium heat until cooked through. Drain excess water and grease.
2) Make the bechamel by melting the butter on high heat stirring frequently until after the first foaming.
3) Immediately add the flour and whisk until evenly distributed.
4) Continue cooking on high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture smells nutty and is a pale golden brown (maybe 5 minutes). Immediately add the milk and stir to combine.
5) Add the nutmeg, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Return to a boil, then lower the heat to as low as it will go and cook for at least 5 minutes.
6) Remove from the heat and allow the spices to infuse for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and peppercorns and stir in the cooked meat.
7) Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt (it's best to err on the side of slighly bland rather than slightly salty, the cheese added later will up the salt content significantly).
8) Set aside until assembly

To make the cheese mixture:
1) Turn oven to as high as it will go.
2) Take the cut cauliflower mixture and toss with 2 tbsp of canola oil and a tbsp or two of salt, spread out on a sheetpan and roast until the florets begin to caramelize.
3) Add the remaining 2 tbsp canola oil to a saute pan set on medium high heat and add the chard stems. Cook until soft.
4) Add the chard leaves and cook until just wilted. Season to taste with salt.
5) Cool the cauliflower and chard until at least room temperature (best if they are cold before proceeding).
6) Combine the vegetables with all remaining ingredients for the cheese mixture.
7) Set aside until assembly.

To cook noodles:
1) Boil in salted water according to package instructions.
2) If you really need help with this step you should not be attempting this recipe

Assembly and final cooking:
1) Assemble in this order: noodles, cheese mixture, meat mixture, noodles, cheese mix, meat mix, noodles, cheese mix, mozzarella.
2) Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
3) Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Here's a picture of what the final pan will look like. We had another shot with just a single portion of this, but it looked disturbing cut. If you consider the ingredients that go into this dish there is a great deal of protein, only a nominal amount of fat, and a lot of fiber from all of the veggies that are in it. Outside of the healthful items that are here, this really keeps well (10 days or so, refrigerated) and reheats fabulously.

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