Prospect Heights is an area of Brooklyn with a lot of brownstones…hard to throw a stone without seeing one. Along with those brownstones are a series of diverse mini-front “yards” and large (often neglected) back yards. In one of these (neglected) back yards, a three person indie band assembled (imagine Sleater-Kinney mixed with The Gossip) for an impromptu performance. Gazing into the fridge, looking for something quick to eat….a simple pasta, some fancified salad…. Then the music started to hit me.
And that is how I found myself preparing lasagna with porcini mushrooms and bechemel sauce!
An approximately four hour process, entering into this recipe is not to be taken lightly…..unless of course you are in a good mood, there is music filting in through the window on a slow Sunday during the dog days of summer. This was my first time preparing lasagna.
Here’s the recipe:
For béchamel sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, heated
1 garlic clove, smashed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
For mushroom tomato sauce:
2 cups boiling-hot water
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup)
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 (14- to 15-oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 long ruffle-edged dried lasagne noodles (not no-boil)
5 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 3/4 cups)
Heat butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat until melted, then add flour and cook roux over low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add hot milk in a fast stream, whisking vigorously, and whisk in garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes, then remove garlic and add pepper.
Make mushroom tomato sauce:
Pour boiling-hot water over porcini in a bowl and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes.Lift out porcini, squeezing excess liquid back into bowl, then rinse to remove any grit. Pour soaking liquid through a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel into another bowl. Chop porcini and add to soaking liquid.
Cook onion in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes, then stir in tomatoes with juice, sugar, porcini with soaking liquid, and 1 tablespoon basil. Simmer, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have broken down into a chunky sauce, about 25 minutes. Stir in salt and remaining tablespoon basil.
Assemble and bake lasagna:
Cook lasagne noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water boiling salted water 8 minutes (noodles will not be cooked through), then drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Add salt to the water just after it reaches a boil. And then when you add the lasagna noodles, add a touch of olive oil too – as this helps the lasanga noodles from sticking together.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
Spread 1 cup béchamel on bottom of a buttered 13- by 9-inch baking dish, reserving remainder for last layer. Drain 3 lasagne noodles in 1 layer on a kitchen towel and arrange over béchamel in baking dish. Spread pasta in dish evenly with one third of mushroom tomato sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat layering of pasta, mushroom tomato sauce, and cheese twice, then cover with last 3 lasagne noodles. Spread remaining béchamel on top and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.
Bake, uncovered, until lasagne is bubbling and top is browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes before cutting.
Gourmet, February 2005 (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/231497)
Make sure you soak the mushrooms in cool water first to remove dirt and impurities.
Here are the tomatoes stewing together with the basil and the porcini mushrooms.
Ah, winning. How sweet it is: