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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

lasagna-style strozzapretti (AKA my favorite food)

This is one of my all-time favorites. It's super easy to make, and it actually *tastes better* if you make it at least a day ahead of time. I've adapted this from a recipe I originally saw in Food & Wine magazine.

Start by boiling a pound of pasta. The original recipe called for pennette or ditali, but I've recently been fixated on strozzapretti. I had it for the first time at a little restaurant in Atlanta called Sotto Sotto. My waiter told me that the word means "priest-strangler", and traditionally it's made with a rich meat or bolognese style sauce. When priests used to go begging for food, they'd get a bowl of this, and it would fill them up so much that they'd not be hungry for a while.

In as big a saucepan as you have, heat some olive oil. Saute a chopped onion for a few minutes, then add about 2 pounds meat. This time I tried a new combination: half veal, half... bison (!!), which is supposedly healthier than chicken breast. I've also made this with veal + lamb and veal + sirloin, all great. Cook the meat until it's no longer pink, usually 10+ minutes. Turn off the heat, then stir in 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes, drained, 1 T tomato paste, a couple of sprigs chopped marjoram, and a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley. Salt and pepper a good amount. When the pasta is done, drain it and stir it into the sauce if your pan is large enough to hold it all.

Final step -- and this is what makes it so different-- make the white sauce. Melt a stick of butter, add 3/4 c flour, then keep stirring while slowly adding a quart of whole milk, a little at a time. This will make a thick bechamel-type sauce. When you're done with the milk, bring it to a just-barely-boil, then turn off the heat. Stir in 1 cup of grated parmesan, then 2 egg yolks.

Take half the sauce and dump it into the pasta mixture, stir, then put all of this into a big baking pan. I use this giant lasagna pan, which works great. If you only have a 9 x 13 pyrex dish to work with, you may want to reduce this whole recipe by about 1/4 (i.e. 1.5 pounds of meat, use 3/4 stick butter w/ 1/2 cup flour, only 3/4 pound pasta, etc). Then spread the rest of the cheese sauce across the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When you're ready to cook it -- technically it can be cooked immediately after preparing, I've done it before and it's still delicious -- bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees, until it's bubbly. Turn on the broiler right at the end to brown the cheese on top (move the pan up to the top rack), only 3-4 minutes. Like any lasagna, let it sit out for about 10 minutes before digging in.

On the side: wilted spinach with walnuts & cranberries. I use a big 10 oz box of fresh spinach, & cook it in a big pan over medium-high heat in olive oil. Keep turning the spinach to help it wilt faster. Add the walnuts, the juice of 1 lemon, s&p, and the dried cranberries. It only takes a couple of minutes for the whole batch -- I made it while the lasagna was resting.

1 comment:

Morgan said...

that looks and sounds incredibly delicious. i am drooling. i have to remind myself not to look at your blog before i've eaten lunch!!