Lasagna a la francaise

I will always remember the first time I ate lasagna, I was probably 8 years old. My family and I were visiting my grand-father and he took us to an Italian restaurant. A real one, run by an old Italian family. I cannot remember what everybody ate, but I still can vividly remember what I ate: Lasagna. I felt in love with that new dish as soon as I put a bite in my mouth, they were so so good. I think that my mom also ate that, because from that point on, she started making lasagnas at home. In France, lasagna are not made with ricotta cheese but with a white sauce. Though it takes a little longer to make lasagnas this way, it is well worth it. You ought to try it:-)

Ingredients: 3 cups of whole milk, 3 tbsp of butter, 3 tbsp of flour, 3 cups of Emmenthal or swiss cheese, 1 1/2 lbs of ground sirloin, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 large sweet onion diced thinly, 1 tbsp of fresh basil chopped, 1 tbsp of fresh oregano chopped, 1 can of diced tomatoes ( 14.5oz), 1 can of tomato paste ( 6oz), 2 tbsp of sugar, 1 cup of broth, 1 box of lasagna sheets, salt and pepper.

First you want to prepare the meat sauce so that it will cook and simmer while you are fixing everything else. In a wide saucepan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and turn the heat up. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sizzle. Lower the temperature to medium high to saute the onions. When the onions are golden, add the meat and cook until it is no longer red. Add basil and oregano, 1/8 tsp of salt, 1/16 tsp of pepper and stir. Add the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste,  1 cup of broth and 2 tbsp of sugar. Stir well and bring to boil. Lower the temperature and let it simmer while you are working on the other elements of the lasagna recipe.

The white sauce, or bechamel sauce:

In another saucepan melt 3 tbsp of butter, add 3tbsp of flour and stir until the flour is turning brown ( it is called “making a roux”). When it does, empty 3 cups of warm milk and stir. Keep stirring to prevent scorching. You will need to stir until the sauce is becoming thicker. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In another large pot, bring some water to boil. Add 3 tbsp of salt. When the water is boiling, throw in the pasta sheets ( you will need 12 so cook about 14 just in case some break, or stick to one another.) Cook the pasta for 2 minutes just enough make them softer, flexible but they should not be cooked through.

We are going to use the square brownie pan. First place 1/3 of the white sauce at the bottom of the pan. Layer the lasagna. Then put 1/3 cup of meat sauce. Layer the sauce with 1 cup of shredded Emmenthal. Then layer with white sauce, then again with pasta. Repeat the process ( meat sauce, cheese, white sauce, pasta..) until all has been used. The last layer should be of pasta, white sauce and cheese. Place the pan in a warm of oven of 375 and cook for 30 minutes. After the lasagna have cooked, remove them from the oven, and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. Then serve and eat up. YUM!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!