green lasagna with bolognese sauce and bechamel

prep time:  tbd
cook time:
servings:  12

bolognese ingredients:
3 pounds ground beef
1 cup carrots - finely diced
1 cup onion - finely diced
1 cup white wine
1 quart 2% milk
1 quart beef stock
8 ounces tomato paste
2 bay leaves
6 fresh sage leaves

bechamel ingredients:
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

pasta ingredients:
6 ounces kale leaves
1 pound pasta flour
4 eggs
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh sage leaves
12 - 16 ounces finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese - thinly sliced
2 cups fresh basil leaves

bolognese steps:
1.  heat a large heave pot over high heat.  when the pan is hot, add meat and cook, stirring to break up chunks, until any liquid has evaporate and the meat starts to fry in its own fat.  use a sturdy spoon and scrape the bottom often, to prevent burning.

2.  when meat is golden and crusty, 10 - 15 minutes, add carrots and onion. keep stirring and scraping over medium-high heat.

3.  when vegetables have softened and meat is dark brown, reduce heat to low and pour in white wine.  scrape all the drippings up from the bottom of the pot.  add milk, stock, and tomato paste, bring to a simmer, and mix the sauce until smooth

4.  reduce the hat to low and simmer for 1 hour.  add salt and pepper to taste.  add bay leaves and sage and cook until meat is very soft and sauce is thick, about 30 minutes more.  set aside.

bechamel steps:
1.  in a heavy saucepan, melt butter until bubbly.  sprinkle flour on the butter an cook, stirring, until it smells buttery and turns golden.

2.  whisking vigorously over medium heat, slowly pour in milk and whisk until mixture starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.  add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.  keep whisking and cooking for another 5 - 10 minutes.  set aside.

pasta steps:
1.  bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  drop in the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 - 16 minutes, depending on the type, age and thickness of the kale.  using a slotted spoon, lift out kale and rain well, reserving cooking water.  in a food processor, puree kale, trickling in cooking water if needed to make a smooth puree.  scrape puree into a strainer and let drain.  transfer to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze dry.  set aside.

2.  in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, eggs, salt and olive oil and mix just until a dough forms.  immediately wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

3.  unwrap the dough and place on a floured surface.  cut the dough into about 16 pieces, sprinkle each with flour and lay out two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with flour.  using a pasta machine, roll out each piece of dough according to the manufacturer's instructions into sheets about 3 - 4 inches wide, until it is as thing as possible without bubbling or tearing.  place finished sheets in a single layer on the prepared pans.  keep covered with damp paper towels.

4.  bring kale cooking water back to a boil.  cook pasta one or two sheets at a time, just until it floats to the top of the pot.  return to paper-lined pans to drain.

5.  bring a small saucepan with about 2 inches of olive oil to a simmer and line a place with paper towels.  working in 4 or 5 batches, add the sage leaves and fry just until crisp and golden, about 30 seconds.  use a slotted spoon to transfer sage to paper towel-lined plate.  sprinkle with salt.

6.  heat oven to 325 degrees.  butter a roasting pan, about 14 x 17 inches x 3 inches.  there should be room to stack three or four layers of ingredients.

7.  cover the bottom of the pan with sheets of pasta.  over the pasta with a thin layer of meat sauce.  snip off a corner or open a small-size tip of the bag with the bechamel and drizzle the sauce in an abstract pattern over the meat sauce.  scatter a layer of both cheese on top.  scatter basil leaves and fried sage leaves on top.  repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with cheese and herbs on top.

8.  cover tightly with plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil.  bake until lasagna is piping hot inside and bubbling up, 20 - 40 minutes depending on starting temperature of ingredients.

9.  remove plastic wrap and foil, raise temperature to 450 degrees and bake another few minutes, until top is golden brown, crusty with cheese and bubbling around the edges.  remove from the oven and let cook at least 30 minutes on a rack before cutting and serving.

- new york times, july 2014

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