"The best lasagna in the world" or Lasagna Bolognese? let's do both (2023)

Casseroles have long been a favorite for dinner parties and family gatherings because casseroles are generally easy to prepare, a portion dream, and can feed a crowd.

Lasagna is a favorite of many because who doesn't love the magical combination of cheese, pasta and tomatoes? Add in the fact that it can be made ahead of time, which makes late night cooking a little less stressful, and you have the perfect comfort food. In the winter, it's especially comforting when we crave meals that are rich and full of carbohydrates.

Like nearly everyone affected by COVID-19, I haven't had many opportunities to cook for people outside of my family lately. So this past weekend, while visiting Washington D.C. take the friend we didn't know to dinner.

I saw this as my chance to try the best lasagna according to the internet. In 2001, Dallas resident John Chandler posted a version of his mother's lasagna on the food-focused online social networking service Allrecipes.com. In a bold move, he dubbed it "the best lasagna in the world" and the rest is history.

In the years since, the recipe has been reviewed by nearly 20,000 home cooks and has the most reviews of any recipe on the site, according to Esmee Williams, the site's vice president of consumer and brand strategy. Last year, at the height of the pandemic, it was the third most viewed recipe on Allrecipes, behind Good Old Fashioned Pancakes and Easy Meatloaf.

Thanks to its solid five-star status, the recipe has also been "pinned" tens of thousands of times, despite its 20 ingredients and 2 and a half hours of cooking time.

"This recipe clearly has the flavors and characteristics that chefs are looking for, especially when feeding a crowd," Williams said via email.

The recipe, he added, exudes an "authentic feel" by using readily available ingredients. It also appeals to chefs who like to tweak recipes, using turkey instead of meat or red wine instead of water. And a great headline "instills confidence," Williams said.

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That brings me back to the friend. What better way to make a great first impression than with a dish that has been revered for over a decade. Keep playing!

italian variations

While Chandler's recipe takes hours to prepare with a variety of ingredients, that's not the case with many American lasagnas. We probably owe this to the popularity of dried lasagna noodles and the recipes printed on the boxes.

Hands up if you've ever tossed undercooked lasagna noodles into a skillet with a pot of spaghetti sauce, ricotta and shredded mozzarella. It may not be exact, but it's a fair facsimile, isn't it?

Originating in Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy in the 19th century, the standard bearer was never intended to be an everyday fast food. It was a dish for parties and other special occasions, made with slow-cooked meat sauces, velvety béchamel sauce and tender, fresh hand-rolled pasta.

"It's a cultural thing," explained food historian and cookbook author Francine Segan in an email. “It is customary in Italy to prepare a special dish like lasagna with care and time for Sunday lunch and special occasions. It takes hours.

In the United States, home cooks tend to value free time and want things done quickly, "so we save money."

The dish is older than you might think: what Italians know as lasagna (plural of macaroni) is derived from the Greek word laganon: flat sheets of pasta cut into thin strips. Already in the fourth century BC. Etruscan frescoes in the Tomb of Reliefs in Lazio, near Rome, Segan noted, depicted the basic tools and ingredients for rolling and shaping dough, as well as banquets showing guests enjoying an earlier version.

The first written recipe for a lasagna-like dish appeared in Roman restorer and writer Apicius' ancient cookbook De Re Coquinaria, Segan said. Only in the Middle Ages, in the 14th century Liber de Coquina cookbook, did a recipe come close to modern lasagna: flat, boiled dough sprinkled with cheese and spices.

Each Italian region has its own traditional recipe and does not necessarily include tomatoes (which only arrived in Italy in the 16th century). Lasagne al brodo, lasagna baked in broth, is a typical dish from Molise prepared with chicken and veal broth, while lasagna all'ascolana from the province of Ascoli in the Marche region, fresh egg lasagna sheets with a sauce made from minced meat and ground beef and veal includes chopped chicken offal cooked in wine and sliced ​​white truffle.

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In southern Italy, lasagna is usually made with dried sheets of pasta topped with a rich stew of meat, ricotta and mozzarella. In the north, especially in Bologna, the most popular version consists of fresh green egg pasta with spinach, topped with ragù, béchamel and parmigiano-reggiano.

In 2003, the Italian Culinary Academy added the green lasagna Bolognese recipe to its archives, although the Neapolitan lasagna, which includes fried meatballs, ricotta, mozzarella and hard-boiled eggs, has the most historical documentation, according to La Cucina Italiana. magazine.

best ingredients

Whichever recipe you choose, we've got the world's best lasagna and a classic lasagna Bolognese to compare and contrast, be sure to follow these simple rules from the experts:

  • Thinner is better when it comes to pasta, whether you make it from scratch or choose a packaged variety. You should also probably avoid raw pasta, as this can make your lasagna feel heavier and drier if the sauce doesn't have enough liquid.
  • Use the best ingredients you can: premium cream, real Parmesan Reggiano cheese, Italian tomatoes and quality meat.
  • Cook the sauce until it thickens, otherwise your lasagna will be watery.
  • Choose a pan that is deep enough to make layering easy, making sure the last layer of pasta is completely covered with sauce and topped with cheese.
  • Don't overcook! Fresh pasta is quite soft and becomes mushy if overcooked. Even if you're using cooked lasagna noodles, you're actually just reheating all the ingredients when the pan goes into the oven.
  • Let the lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before portioning it or it will fall apart into a mess.
  • Above all, have fun creating your masterpiece. After all, it's lasagna.

The best lasagna in the world.

You have to be a meat lover to really appreciate this lasagna. It should also last a couple of hours, as the sauce should simmer on the stove for 90 minutes before being topped with the macaroni and cheese.

I made the sauce, which is sweet, a day ahead to speed up the dinner process. My carnivore family, including my daughter's boyfriend, gave the lasagna a thumbs up. It's heavy and plentiful.

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pounds of lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans of tomato paste
2 (6.5 oz) cans of canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup of water
2 spoons of white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 no
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Make the sauce: In a Dutch oven, cook the sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until well browned. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seed, Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Cover and cook over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse in cold water. In a bowl, combine the ricotta with the egg, remaining parsley and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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To assemble the lasagna: Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Place 6 noodles lengthwise over the meat sauce. Spread with half of the ricotta mixture. Top with one-third of the mozzarella cheese slices. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce over the mozzarella and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers and top with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil. To prevent sticking, spray the foil with cooking spray or make sure the foil doesn't touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. 12 served

From allrecipes.com

Classic Lasagna Bolognese

The Italian Culinary Academy included this recipe for Green Lasagna Bolognese in its archives in 2003. It includes green pasta with spinach, classic Bolognese ragù, béchamel sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

The original Italian instructions advise chefs: "Make sure the layers are very even, the sauce is abundant but not excessive, the béchamel is creamy and evenly distributed." Let rest five minutes before serving; portions on the plate must be strictly “standing”.

I made the pasta from scratch using defrosted and frozen spinach (squeezed between a clean kitchen towel to remove moisture), but dried pasta is a good substitute. Cook until al dente, or about 1 minute less than package directions. To prevent sticking when assembling the lasagna, lightly rub each piece on both sides with a little vegetable oil.

Its tender layers of fresh pasta and two sauces make this lasagna a rich and flavorful delight. It takes some time, so you might want to make the sauce ahead of time to speed up the process.

For the bolognese sauce:

5 ounces porchetta or bacon
2 spoons of butter
2 1/2 ounces finely chopped carrots
2 ounces finely chopped celery
2 ounces finely chopped onion
11 ounces ground beef
1/2 cup red wine
10 ounces of tomato puree
meat broth
1 cup of milk
salt and pepper
For pasta:
12 ounces flour, preferably "00"
2 owner
7 ounces cooked spinach, squeezed and finely chopped
For the bechamel:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons wheat flour
3 cups whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add freshly grated nutmeg

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Prepare the bolognese sauce: Dice and chop the bacon and fry in a large Dutch oven until crispy. Add 2 tablespoons butter and chopped carrots, celery and onions and saute lightly. Add ground beef. mix well and cook until browned and 'seared'. Add wine, mix gently and cook until completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, cover and cook for about 2 hours, adding broth if necessary. When the sauce is almost ready, add the milk to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the dough by mixing the eggs, flour and cooked spinach, squeeze well and chop finely to form a ball of dough. (I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment.) Continue to knead, by hand or with an electric mixer, for 3 minutes to allow the dough to develop elasticity and smoothness.

Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. Or let the dough rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Roll out the dough, which should be light green and not too thin. (I used a pasta machine and worked through the settings, but you can also stretch the dough by hand.)

Place a pot three-quarters full of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cut the dough into rectangles or squares (mine were about 3" x 5"), place in boiling water and remove as soon as they rise to the surface. Rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking and dry them on a clean white cotton or linen towel.

Make the béchamel: Melt the butter in a pan over low heat, add the flour and mix until it forms a paste. Continue cooking, stirring, until the raw flour smell is gone, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add the milk in a thin, even stream, beating well and reaching every corner of the pan. Heat, stirring, until sauce boils and begins to thicken slightly. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Use the sauce immediately or wrap a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the sauce to prevent a film from forming. Keep warm until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Generously grease the bottom of the mold with butter. Place a layer of pasta on top, followed by a layer of meat sauce, bechamel sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

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Keep layering pasta, sauces, and cheese until you run out of ingredients (I had enough for 6 layers). Place a small knob of butter in each corner of the pan to keep the edges from drying out.

Bake in the preheated oven for about half an hour. Let rest 15 minutes before serving. 6-8 servings.

Adapted by the Italian Culinary Academy

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