It's been over a year since my first (and last!) Weekend Cooking post. I have several recipes I'd like to add to my food blog and thought this might be a good way to kill two birds with one stone.
Rod and I have been fans of Trisha Yearwood's music for many years and when I first saw her cookbook, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. I assumed a celebrity cookbook would be full of pretty pictures (it is), but an overall a disappointment when it comes to the actual recipes (is isn't). I've sampled a half dozen recipes and am pleased to report that this is a splendid cookbook! And it's my favorite kind: Full page photos for almost every single recipe, accompanied by interesting anecdotes and tips from Trisha and her sister and mother.
Last week I decided to try Trisha's Cowboy Lasagne. It's been ages since I've made lasagne, mainly because I've never been quite satisfied with my own recipe. And, back when I was first learning to cook, lasagne always seemed to be an involved and complicated recipe. Now that I've been cooking for over 30 years, I've learned the importance of multi-tasking in the kitchen. Lasagne is really a very simple recipe, as long as you have time for the preparation. (It's certainly not something you want to try to throw together after work!) And Trisha's recipe is worth the time. Rod and I thought it was the best we'd ever tasted. Yes, we went back for seconds!
In my introduction to Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen, I mentioned that Garth had recently asked me about trying to create a heartier, meatier lasagne, and we started experimenting. Here's what we came up with. Remember those old commercials that said, "How do you handle a hungry man?" Well, here's how! Serves 12
1 pound lean ground beef, chuck or round
1 pound sage-flavored sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sliced pepperoni
1 16-ounce can tomatoes, diced or stewed
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
16 ounces lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large, heavy skillet, lightly brown the ground beef, sausage, onion, and garlic in the oil. Be sure to keep the meat chunky, not finely separated, while cooking. Drain the meat. Add the pepperoni, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, and oregano. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Cook and drain the lasagna noodles according to package directions.
In a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan, spread 1 cup of the prepared sauce. Alternate layers of lasagna, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses, ending with sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow the dish to stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cut the lasagne into 3-inch squares and serve.
I used Sweet Italian sausage and eliminated the pepperoni altogether.
I accidentally bought a 28-ounce can of tomatoes, which I used, so I reduced the amount of water by 1/2 cup.
I allowed the sauce to simmer for a couple of hours rather than 30 minutes.
I only used half a package of lasagna noodles (9 rather than 18).
I brought the water to a boil and began cooking the noodles prior to preparing the sauce.
I saved a little time by using some of the precooked sausage I had stashed in the freezer for our weekly pizzas.
After draining the cooked noodles, I placed them on a large piece of aluminum foil to cool.
I find it very easy to spread the ricotta cheese on the cooled noodles while they are still on the foil. The noodles stick to the foil nicely so they don't slide around while trying to smooth out the ricotta and yet are easily peeled away from the foil when ready to transfer them to the prepared dish as I'm ready to assemble the lasagne.