Our Crispy Lasagna Technique
A lot of people have never experience crispy lasagna, besides the beloved crispy edges that form on our casserole cookware. You know what I’m talking about. Let’s take that idea and expand on it and make our pasta super crispy instead of soft and chewy. Below you’ll find step-by-step instruction guide to making the perfect crispy lasagna. We’ll be making a special Texas Bolognese Sauce. Talk about an amazing meat sauce you’ll want to keep on hand for the rest of your life. Vegetarian option as well. So, So Good!
Term: Bolognese: an Italian cuisine meat sauce coming from the city of Bologna.
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Making Crispy Lasagna
We need three elements for our Crispy Lasagna, first the “fresh” pasta, (never use dry pasta for this recipe), then the sauce “Texas Bolognese” (w/ vegetarian option as well) and the Cheese. We are going to use two cheeses. The first cheese is Ricotta cheese that we make ourselves at home. You can make ricotta cheese at home within one hour. Click here to jump to the ricotta cheese instructions. The second cheese is a finishing cheese to spread over the top before the oven. I used asiago cheese.
Second we need a sauce that is deep with flavor. Texas Bolognese is a sauce using flavors from the southwestern America. Living in Texas opens your eyes to the world of spice and peppers and how to use them without blowing peoples taste bud off. In the video on Texas Bolognese, I’ll teach you how to pick peppers that are NOT hot, or how to find the hottest peppers. I also cover how to prepare the peppers to control the heat level. A must see.
Video: Complete Guide To Crispy Lasagna
Video: Homemade Crispy Lasagna - Technique
How To Make Homemade Pasta From Scratch
Making pasta is a skill that is worth learning to pasta lovers because of the texture you can create. It’s one of those experiences that makes you feel good. Both eating and knowing how to do it yourself. My method is low mess using a food processor.
Quick Tip: Cooking fresh homemade pasta.
Make sure the water is salted. The level of salt in the water should remind you of ocean sea water.
Fresh pasta cooks in under 2 minutes, closer to 90 seconds.
Fresh Pasta Recipe Ingredients & Measurements:
- 10 oz Semolina Flour
- 6 oz Bread Flour
- 3 to 5 Whole Eggs – All eggs are not made the same, the size of the yolk matters. Start with 3, then add the 4th and so on.
- 1 T Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
Instructions For Making Fresh Pasta at Home
- Add all of the flour into the food processor, plus the 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt ( pulse/blend a few times to make sure there aren’t any flour lumps)
- Add the Olive Oil. Start with 1 tbsp.
- Turn on the machine and add in the eggs one at a time. The dough will come together into a ball.
- Next, kneed the dough on a tabletop for 6 to 9 minutes or until it becomes elastic.
- Be mindful to work quickly as you do not want the dough to dry out.
- Once elastic, meaning the dough is very smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and place into refrigerator for 15-20 minuter. DO NOT SKIP this step.
- Shape the pasta before the refrigerator. Think about the size of the pasta roller machine and mold the pasta into the shape of a disk that will fit into the opening of the machine.
KEY: Reason the dough needs to go onto the refrigerator is to rest. The gluten strains we just created by mixing and kneading the dough is key to the pasta making. They are tight right now and need to relax, or your pasta will be like a rock.
Using a pasta roller machine like the one we sell featured above. But first use a rolling pin, roll over the pasta a few times to soften the pasta before running it through the pasta machine.
Key To Rolling Pasta: Start on number 1. The setting on the pasta roller. The lower the number the thicker the pasta sheet will be. You need to start on lower numbers and work your way up to the desired thickness. Start on number 1. After you run the pasta throw the first time or two, fold the pasta sheet back over on top of itself. This process helps shape the sheets as they go throw the machine. You want the sheets to be pretty much the width of the pasta machine opening once your done rolling the sheets out. Up to thickness setting #5 should be right on for crispy lasagna.
Place the sheets on parchment paper and cover so they do not dry out.
How To Fry Fresh Pasta To Perfect Crispiness For Crispy Lasagna
Look The Pasta Sheets Puff UP – Very Cool
First think about the way you want the dish to look on the plate. Get one of those plates out and place it in front of you. Then lay one of the fresh pasta sheets on the plate and using a knife, mark the spot to cut away the excess pasta.
You can use store bought fresh pasta sheets. Works great!!!
Crispy Lasagna Frying Instructions
- Have a plate with a paper towel ready to reduce mess
- Heat Canola oil to 350 degrees
- Test fry a small piece until crispy. This will help you decide if the oil is hot enough
- Fry until most of the bubbles stop. About 90 seconds.
Making Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is traditionally made from recooking whey, which actually began in Italy as a by-product of the cheese making process. The name literally means re-cook. When whey is heated, the protein is fused together and creates a new curd that, when drained, becomes a snowy white ricotta high in moisture and natural low in fat. It is commonly used in Italian cooking as a filling for pastas or is a base for cheesecakes. Today, some ricotta’s are made with added skim milk or whole milk for richer flavor.
Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- Large Pot
- Fine Strainer to drain the whey
- 8 cups Whole Milk / No NOT use Low-Fat
- 16 ounce Heavy Cream / Half & Half Will Work
- 2 Lemons / Juiced
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
Making Easy Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- Using a large pot, add the 8 cups of Whole Milk, along with the heavy cream & salt
- Using a candy thermometer, SLOWLY bring the temperature up to 190 degrees. (about 10 to 15 minutes)WARNING: The key to success is bringing the temperature up to 190 slowly. DO NOT at any point allow the milk to boil. Be mindful of the bottom of your pot, do not allow the milk to scorch. Use a spatula to stir.
- The idea is being gentle with the protein and fat in the milk. The slow warming process allows the fat to separate/coagulate. Creating Curds( the cheese) & they Whey (the leftover liquid)
- While the milk is coming to 190 degrees add in the salt. Add the salt asap.
- Once @ 190 degrees stir in the 2 whole lemons - juiceStir for 60 seconds. You'll start to see the milk thicken. This is the coagulation process happening. You're making cheese!!!
- Cover the pot with the heat off and allow it to coagulate for 10+ minutes.
- After 10+ minutes, pour through cheesecloth. You'll need to drain off the whey. Do not allow the curds (cheese) to sit in the whey. Once the whey level starts to touch the cheese, drain off the whey. Continue until all whey is gone and only the curd is left.
How To Shape & Store The Cheese
- Using plastic wrap. Layout the curds and roll into the shape you want. This is your one chance to shape the cheese to your desire. Think about the presentation of your ricotta cheese when you slice and serve.
- Storage: Refrigerate, wrapped in plastic wrap
- It will last around 1 week. Over the days the cheese will shrink a very small amount due to the frigid air in the refrigerator.
- Although ricotta cheese is traditionally made by recooking the whey, it can also be made by substituting milk for some of all of the whey. This version calls for whole milk. If you prefer a lower-fat cheese, use skim milk for all or part of the whole milk. If desired, substitute 2 fl oz / 60 mL diluted liquid citric acid for the 4 tsp of citric acid. If a creamier product is desired, add 8 oz / 240 mL heavy cream to the curd.
Texas Bolognese Sauce – Southwest Mirepoix
- Food Processor
- Sharp Knife
- Large Skillet
- 1 medium Vidalia Onion
- 1 large Carrot
- 1 stalk Celery
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper
- 1 Serrano Pepper
- 1 Dried Ancho Chile
- 1 Guajillo Pepper / Dried
- 3 tips Thai Chiles / cut in half lengthwise / No seed or rib
- 1/2 Habanero Pepper / cut in half lengthwise / No seed or rib
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 Portobello Mushroom
- 10 Cremini Mushrooms
- 1 tbsp High-Quality Butter
- 4 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Red Wine
- 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
- 1 can Tomatoes / I like using whole tomatoes and breaking them up
Preparing The Mushrooms
- Rinse/wash the mushroom off under cold water. Do this quickly as mushrooms will absorb some water. Using a spoon, clean off the spores from underneath the mushrooms. If not, you'll inpart a more earthly flavor profile most will not enjoy. Almost dirty flavor. Remove the spores.
- Next, chop the mushrooms into a small size. We will be saluting them and need the mushrooms the same size for even cooking and appearance. No big chunks.Option: If preparing the vegetarian version, leaving some large chunks might be a nice touch for additional texture. Be sure to double the number of mushrooms to use that amounts to what you like. I would suggest mixing in a few different types of mushrooms. Idea: Try using some dried mushrooms. Place them into warm water to soften. But sure to add some of the liquid to add big flavor. I would suggest tasting the dried mushroom liquid before adding to make sure you think it will work with the recipe.
- Add butter to a large skillet over medium heat, then add the mushrooms. But only add half of them at this point. Add a small pinch of salt and dried thyme at this time.Cook until they have shrunk in size and caramelized, then add the second half and cook them alongside the cooked mushrooms. This ensures the mushrooms get caramelized for maximum flavor. Otherwise, there would be too much mushroom in the skillet and likey just steam.
Making The Base - Southwest Mirepoix
- Set up your food processor close to a cutting board
- Chop the onion, carrot, celery, jalapeno, serrano, guajillo, habanero, Thai chile, ancho, bell pepper, into a size that helps the food processor do its job. Do not add large chunks to a food processor or risk uneven blending.I used half of each pepper and turned out great, but not very hot. If you watch the video you can see how I cut the peppers, ie how much I used exactly.Add each ingredient one at a time to the food processor until everything is smooth/purred.
- Next, add the "base" to the cooked mushrooms and start reducing the liquid. We want to cook off some of the liquid and tighten the sauce up a bit.
- Now add in the ground beef. Add salt and pepper and cook the beef through.
- Next, add in a few tbsp of tomato paste and stir it in. Then add in the red wine and cook off the alcohol.Lastly, I like to add something fresh. I like adding a whole tomato from the can. The canned tomatoes will be soft and the right texture to add with ease.
- After a few minutes and the red wine has cooked into the bolognese sauce TSA: Taste - Season - AdjustDoes it need more tomato paste? Salt? Does the color look good? Add in more tomato paste for a deeper color.Then, there you go. You have Texas Bolognese Sauce
Texas Bolognese Sauce Vegetarian Option
Love Mushrooms? I do and they are almost as meaty as other animal proteins. Replacing the beef in the Bolognese sauce with mushrooms works like a charm. I think the key is using a few different mushrooms to enhance the flavor profile.
Cool idea is to use some dried mushroom alongside the fresh mushrooms. This will bring in deep flavor as dried mushrooms pack a punch. Be sure to soak the dried mushroom for at least 15 minutes in warm water. Do not throw out that soaking liquid. Add that to the southwest mirepoix while reducing. Watch video attached to the recipe card above.