Lasagna is a pretty fancy dish, even by Italian standards, so it is quite understandable that it will take a lot of effort and a lot of ingredients. Now, I know you’re wondering “I will have have to buy two different meats for this three meat lasagna and convince people it’s a four meat lasagna”. No fear, broke-man is here! For the ground beef, you can go to a fancy store and buy the 93/7 lean beef but why bother? Even the 80/20 is too expensive for my wallet. I go for the 73/27 ground beef tube from Walmart, nothing beats the extremely processed foods you buy over there. The other meat is sausage, you can substitute it with cheap ground up hotdogs. I suggest Bar S Franks since they are only $1 per pound. Sure, they have been recalled a few times but does that really bother you? I’ve made this dish about twenty times and I have come to perfect it according to my palate. One of the biggest mistakes that first time lasagna makers make is that they don’t bake the lasagna long enough or don’t let it set for 20 minutes before serving. This makes it too watery and the lasagna becomes a soup when you eat it.
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
0.5 kg ground beef
250 grams sausage, de-cased and broken into small chunks (can substitute turkey sausage)
2 can (14.5 oz) tomato puree
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2.5 tsp salt
0.5 tbsp Italian herbs (but you may not put it because the sausage is spiced)
0.5 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp sugar
500 grams portobello mushrooms, sliced
0.5 liter water
1 container (16 oz) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 box lasagna noodles (ready to bake variety)
Fresh chopped basil for garnish (optional)
You’re going to need a large metal stock pot for the meat sauce, ideally it should be 12 quarts but it depends on what you have. It bubbles and spits a lot so you definitely need a cover as well.
Heat oil in a large stock pot on medium to high heat and add the onion and crushed garlic. Cook for 10 minutes until light brown.Add the ground beef and sausage, the ground beef will release a lot of water. Cook until the meat changes color and the water dries up, about 15 to 20 minutes. This removes the raw meat smell from the ground beef.
Add tomato puree and paste, 2 tsp salt, Italian herbs, black pepper, mushrooms, and sugar and mix thoroughly. Add the water and mix again. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
Cover the pot and let it cook for 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally because it will stick to the bottom of the pot. You might be wondering why we add sugar to a meat sauce. This is because the tomatoes are acidic and give a tart after taste, the sugar makes it go away. Set this sauce aside.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with egg, 0.5 tsp salt, Parmesan, and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. This is our cheese sauce.
Now it is time to construct the lasagna. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius (347 degrees Fahrenheit). You will need an oven safe baking dish, either you buy the the $1 dollar disposable one from Dollar Tree and use it again and again, or you just use a metal pot which has no rubber or plastic on it (also called a casserole dish). Line a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of the baking tray and then put three lasagna noodles on top. If you have the ready-to-bake variety then it is all good, if not then you will have to boil the noodles first. Add a layer of cheese sauce, meat sauce, noodles, cheese sauce, meat sauce, noodles, then finally the meat sauce. There should be several layers, I do not advise doing more layers because the taste of the noodles will over power the sauce.
Bake the dish for 45 minutes and then take it out. If you want to eat this dish later, then you can cool the dish and refrigerate it for a few days using plastic wrap. Add the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella on top and bake it for another 30 minutes until the cheese is brown. You may need to broil it for 1 – 1.5 minutes to get the perfect look. Let it set for at least 20 minutes before you dig in. Garnish with freshly cut basil.
Lasagna is usually a main dish and pairs very well with a red wine and some bread sticks. I couldn’t afford the wine or the bread sticks, let alone a dining table. So my dish is served on a wooden cutting board place-mat, with newspaper table cloth and a floor table. Invite your hood/chav/bogan/gopnik/racaille friends and squat around and enjoy a nice meal.