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Lasagna

"Mama Leones" original Lasagna Recipes, sorry so long

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"Mama Leones" original Lasagna Recipes, sorry so long

Irwin Koval | Aug 31, 2003 05:36 AM

Irwin's Lasagna alla Mama Leone

When I worked at Mama Leone's restaurant in NYC, we used to prepare 50 pans of lasagna every day. We'd prepare mostly "Meat Lasgna", in those days we prepared "Vegetable Lasagna", as well, but Vegetarians were few and far between. We used to make only about 20 Pans a week. But for meatless Friday's we'd prepare as many as 60/70 Pans of "Seafood/Shellfish Lasagna" always a big seller. I'm not aware of any other restaurant's in New York that made this dish. Many items used may be interchanged for your personal taste. I'll begin with the "Meat Lasgna".

Meat Lasagna

Marinara Sauce:
Two 28 oz. cans chopped tomatoes in purée
One 28-oz. can tomato purée
12 oz. tomato paste
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
1/2 cup dried basil
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/8 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup finely diced onion
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups finely diced celery
2 cups diced red and/or green bell pepper
2 bunches cilantro or Italian parsley, finely diced, stems included
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup dry white wine

Combine tomatoes, purée, and paste in a very large bowl and stir until mixed well. Stir the oregano, thyme, basil, olive oil, white pepper, chile flakes, and sugar into the tomato mixture.

Place a large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook just until the garlic is golden brown. Add the onions and stir well, then add the carrots, celery, bell peppers, and parsley, cover the pan, and cook until vegetables are tender. When the vegetables start to brown, carefully add the cup of white wine. By the time the wine boils down, the vegetables should be ready. Bring them to room temperature, then stir them into the tomato mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Plain Tomato Sauce:

1 28-oz. can tomato sauce (such as Hunt’s or Del Monte or Muir Glen)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 cup olive oil

Blend the tomato sauce, sugar, and olive oil in a medium bowl.

Sausage:
2 1/2 lbs/ of fresh sweet Italian sausge,
separated into links and jabbed all over with a fork
Enough chicken or beef stock to cover the sausages in a skillet

Place sausages in a skillet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover with the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove the sausages from the stock with tongs, place them in a large bowl, cover them, and refrigerate. Reduce the sausage-flavored stock by half, reserve to add into the meat sauce below. When sausages have cooled, slice them into thin crosswise slices, on the bias.

Meat Sauce Base:
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup finely diced onion
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups finely diced celery
2 cups diced red and/or green bell pepper
2 bunches cilantro or Italian parsley, finely diced, stems included
1 cup wine
3 lbs. ground chuck
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
1/2 cup dried basil
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fennel seeds
Reserved, reduced stock from boiling the sausages, above
1 lb. bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

In another large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, cook the vegetables in the vegetable oil the same way as for the marinara sauce above, including adding the cup of wine and reducing at the end. When cooked, place vegetables in a large bowl.

Wipe out the pan, add 2 tablespoon vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and sauté, stirring and breaking up large clumps, just until the meat loses its raw red color, then add the vegetable mixture and stir well. When the mixture is heated through, stir in the reserved, reduced stock from the sausage, and the bread crumbs and grated parmigiano-reggiano. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

White Sauce:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups melted butter
1 bottle dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated kasseri cheese
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 gallon whole milk

Make a roux: Heat the butter in a saucepan, then slowly add the flour, stirring constantly. As the flour is absorbed, lower the heat and stir steadfastly until the mixture becomes a light beige color. Stir in 1 cup of the wine, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring, until the mixture thins out slightly. Scrape roux into a medium bowl.

In another bowl, blend the three cheeses and set aside. Pour the milk into a large pot and bring to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring. Remove from the heat and add a splash of wine to stop the boiling.

Stir the roux, adding a little wine until it stirs easily. Return milk to medium-high heat, and the moment it begins to bubble slightly—before it comes to a rolling boil—lower the heat to medium and begin stirring in the roux, 1/4 cup at a time. Stir constantly, and when the mixture thickens, stir in the cheese mixture, a handful at a time, adding a little wine to lower the temperature and prevent sticking or burning.

When you’ve melted the cheese and thickened the sauce, remove from the heat and carefully pour it into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce. Let cool.

Cheese, Egg, White Wine Cheese Sauce, and Spinach Mixture:
2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach,
thawed and thoroughly drained, squeezed dry in a clean cotton towel
1 bunch “curly” parsley, chopped
1 bunch Italian “flat” parsley, chopped
1 teaspon freshly grated nutmeg
2 quarts fresh ricotta cheese
1 dozen large eggs, whisked to blend in a very large bowl

In a large bowl, mix the dried spinach with the parsleys. Stir in the grated nutmeg and mix well.

Whisk the ricotta into the eggs until creamy, then mix in the spinach and enough of the white sauce to make a spreadable, but still thickly textured, mixture.

Now mix two parts marinara sauce to one part meat sauce base, or to taste, adding parmigiano-reggiano to taste.

Assemble the lasagna:
2 lbs. imported dried lasagna noodles, such as Barilla or De Cecco
1/4 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 lbs. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 cup grated kasseri cheese

In a huge kettle over high heat, bring 8-10 quarts of salted water to the boil. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the manufacturer’s instructions, not past al dente. Drain well and rinse to prevent further cooking (and sticking).

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat the entire inside of a suitable rectangular lasagna pan (or two) with the butter. Coat the bottom of the pan with the tomato sauce/olive oil/sugar mixture, moving the pan around until the bottom is nicely covered. Cover the sauce with a layer of lasagna noodles, then cover the noodles with the meat/marinara mixture, about a 1/2-inch layer. Next comes another layer of lasagna noodles, then a layer of the cheese/egg/spinach/white sauce mixture, again in about a 1/2-inch layer.

Now add a layer of the base mixture, then a layer of sliced sausages, then a layer of marinara sauce. Next comes another layer of lasagna noodles, then a layer of the meat sauce mixture. Cover the meat sauce with thin slices of mozzarella, followed by a layer of pasta, followed by a layer of marinara sauce, followed by a mozzarella layer. Repeat with layers of noodles and marinara (no cheese) until you reach the top of the pan. Cover the final layer of pasta with mozzarella, and smear the cheese with a final marinara saucing. Add a thin coating of the tomato sauce, and sprinkle with the kasseri cheese.

Bake the lasagna until the top becomes slightly bubbly and brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20-30 minutes. Cut into individual portions and serve immediately.

These basic ingredients are utilized with layered prepared veggies, such as eggplant, zuccinni, yellow squash, kale, spring onions, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, mushroom slices, and whatever, all pre-prepared al dente. The seafood lasagna used firm white fish such as Mahi-Mahi, Orange Roughy, Seabass, Halibut [the best], or even Salmon, [We didn't use only because it's not italian?], peeled shrimp, and scallops. You may wish to add Clam Meat, Lobster, or Squid—anything goes as long as you enjoy.

Since this has taken so long, unless Chowhound approves I won't provide all the details for the variations, However if anyone emails me with what type of Lasagna they want to prepare, I'll be happy to advise how to assemble the ingredients, as the basic's are all included with this recipe, the differences are due to customizing each Lasagna your way. Hope this does meets your satisfaction. Once you've put it all together it not that difficult, when you eat your results, I hope it was woth the wait and you all enjoy. Hope this wasn't Chowhound's longest posting. My one finger typing tool says it's my longest anything ever.

Irwin

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