Spicy 'Nduja Lasagna Bolognese
This was a variation on the outstanding Lasagna Bolognese recipe from Kenji Lopez-Alt over at Serious Eats.
While there's not much to improve on his recipe, I wanted something a little hotter, and Salumi Chicago's fantastic 'Nduja came to mind - it's a cured pork sausage mixed with spicy Calabrian chilies, and combined with Happy Valley Meat Co's Ground Beef it gave the Lasagna a deeply spicy and smoky profile. I also threw in some chipotles in adobo, a Jean-Georges approved trick we used to use at Nougatine to ramp up the heat and put the flavors of the dish in sharper focus.
Lastly - we made our own egg pasta for this, and I don't know if I'll ever go back to packaged. It was outstanding, using Deer Creek Malt's organic flour and resulting in an outstanding texture and flavor.
This is the kind of dish best prepared when you're not in a rush - grab a glass of wine and let's get started:
Spicy Lasagna Bolognese
- 2 Tbsp EVOO
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1 pound 'Nduja
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 2 Carrots, finely chopped
- 3 Celery Ribs, finely chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic, grated
- 1/2 cup Sage, finely chopped
- Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) Can Crushed Tomatoes, ideally D.O.P. San Marzano
- 1/2 Can Chipotles in Adobo, blended or mashed until smooth
- 1 1/2 cups Red Wine
- 1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
- 2 cups Chicken Stock
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- 1/2 cup Mixed Basil & Parsley, finely minced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 Cloves Garlic, grated
- 2 Cups Whole Milk
- 1/2 LB Grated Mozzarella
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- 300g All-Purpose Flour
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 1 Whole Egg
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- Minced Basil
Make the 'Nduja Bolognese
Heat a large dutch oven and add the EVOO and butter. Add the ground beef and 'Nduja and cook about 8 minutes or until they are no longer raw and are starting to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, sage and red pepper flake, season with a pinch of kosher salt, and let the vegetables sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the cooked meat, tomatoes, chipotles, wine, milk, and stock. Simmer for 2-3 hours slowly with the lid just slightly cracked. Kenji adds the fish sauce later, but I like it early on so it fades a bit more into the background. After the sauce has reduced, add the cream and cook slowly for another ten minutes. Season to taste and add the herbs.
The 'Nduja Bolognese will last for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.
Make the Béchamel
Heat the butter in a pan until foamy, then whisk in the flour and cook until it smells nutty. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, then pour in the milk in a steady stream while whisking constantly. Add the cheese and nutmeg and continue to whisk until fully melted. Season to taste and set aside.
Make the Noodles
In the base of a stand mixer (or a bowl if mixing by hand), combine the egg yolks, egg, flour and salt. Mix on slow until the dough has come together completely - it should be smooth and not sticky, don't be afraid to add water or flour as needed as it comes together.
Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. Each time you rest the dough, you're looking for a more pliable dough to work with. If it needs more time, take a few more minutes and come back once it has had time to rest a bit.
Cut the dough into four pieces. You can use a rolling pin for this step, or you can use a pasta machine - either works. Roll the dough flat, alternating between the four cut pieces to let each rest momentarily so it's easier to work with. Once the dough is around 1/8 inch thick, take a knife and cut the pasta into long pieces about 2-3 inches wide. Let the noodles rest, then if you want them a little thinner lightly slap the noodles on the counter to stretch them our slightly.
When you're ready to cook, boil the pasta only for about 30 seconds and remove - it'll cook more in the oven so don't feel like it needs to be finished when it comes out (fresh pasta also cooks faster than dried pasta).
Bake the Lasagna
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. This should make around 6 layers, so divide the components accordingly when portioning each layer.
In a 9x13 pan, start with a layer of 'Nduja Bolognese, add a spoon full of béchamel, sprinkle with parmesan, and top with three sheets of cooked pasta. Repeat until you've run out of components or the pan is overflowing. I like for the top layer to be just pasta sprinkled with parmesan, but I won't judge if you want the top to be bolognese and béchamel, I assume it'd come out like a sort-of pizza that way.
The pan is going to drip like crazy, so put a sheet pan on the rack below so you don't smoke out the kitchen. Cook the lasagna uncovered for 45 minutes rotating halfway through cooking, and let it rest for 10 minutes before starting. Sprinkle with herbs and enjoy.