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Beef & Pork Ragù Lasagne

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Serves eight to ten.

  • To learn more, read:
    Lasagne: the Real Deal
  • by Joyce Goldstein from Fine Cooking
    Issue 82

For The Ragù:
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped (1-1/3 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped (2/3 cup)
  • 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped (1-1/3 cups)
  • 1 lb. boneless beef brisket or chuck, finely diced or ground (2 cups; see tip)
  • 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, finely diced or ground (1-1/2 cups; see tip)
  • 8 oz. pancetta, finely diced (1-1/4 cups)
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup canned tomato purée
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste diluted in 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned beef or chicken broth; more as needed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tip:
To chop the ragù meat, cut each piece into 1/4-inch slices, Then cut the slices into thin strips lengthwise and and dice the strips crosswise. Alternatively, you can pulse the meat in food processor, but be careful not to chop it too finely or into a paste.
To assemble:
  • 3/4 lb. fresh lasagne noodles (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 oz. (1 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Double recipe of Basic Cream Sauce
Tip:
If time is short and you can't find fresh pasta sheets in your local stores, use 1 lb. good-quality dried lasagne noodles, cooked according to package instructions.
Make the ragù:

In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven, melt the 6 Tbs. butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, and onions and cook,  stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Add the beef, pork, and pancetta and cook, breaking up the meats with a spoon and stirring often, until the meats lose their redness, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the wine, tomato purée, and tomato paste and simmer vigorously until the liquid is almost evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the beef or chicken broth and the milk, cover with the lid ajar, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently until you have a rich, concentrated sauce, about 2-1/2 hours. Check every 30 minutes to see if more liquid is needed, adding more broth if necessary to prevent scorching. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Let cool. Skim off the fat from the top, if desired. You should have about 6 cups.

Cook the noodles:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Slip the noodles, two or three at a time, into the boiling water and cook them until they're tender and pale, 3 to 5 minutes (thinner noodles will cook more quickly). To make sure they're done, taste a small piece. If it's still tough, it needs a little more cooking (fresh pasta should not be cooked al dente like dried pasta).

Carefully scoop the noodles out of the water with a large wire skimmer and slide them into the ice water to stop the cooking. When they're cool, layer them between clean dish towels until you're ready to assemble the lasagne (they'll keep this way for up to two hours).

Assemble the lasagne:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Choose a baking dish that’s about 9x12 inches and 3 inches deep, or about 10x14 inches and 2 inches deep. Butter the baking dish. Spread 1/2 cup of ragù in a sparse layer on the bottom of the dish. Then cover with a slightly overlapping layer of cooked noodles, cutting them as needed to fill the gaps. Spread one-third of the remaining ragù (about 1-1/2 cups) over the first layer of noodles. Drizzle on one-third of the Basic Cream Sauce (about 1 cup) and spread it with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup Parmigiano. Add a new layer of noodles, overlapping them slightly.

Repeat the layers as instructed above, until all of the filling ingredients are used, to make a total of three layers (you may not need all the pasta). Dot the top with the butter cubes.

Put the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and bubbling at the edges, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

You can prepare the ragù up to four days ahead and refrigerate it, or freeze it for up to one month. Reheat gently until the sauce is warm enough to spread for assembling the lasagne. The assembled, unbaked lasagne will keep for at least a day in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to four months (make sure you wrap the dish tightly with plastic). Thaw the lasagne in the fridge and bring it to room temperature before baking.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on ten servings; Calories (kcal): 620; Fat (g): 39; Fat Calories (kcal): 350; Saturated Fat (g): 17; Protein (g): 30; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): 29; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): 1140; Cholesterol (mg): 170; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I have made this twice. It is worth the effort. I did not change a thing, except I make 1.5 batches of the ragù and white sauce so that I can put a smaller lasagne in the freezer to eat a few weeks later. It is that good. I would not recommend using anything other than homemade pasta, as what you get in a box is too heavy for the subtle flavors of these sauces.

This is absolutely delicious!!! Unfortunately I used Olivieri's no boil "fresh" pasta and didn't like the end texture result, but I imagine with great quality fresh or even great quality dried lasagna noodles it would be PERFECT!!!

I have been reading and cooking recipes from Finecooking for over 10 years and have very rarely come across one that I did not like. Based on the other reviews, it looks like I am alone here for posting a bad review. I love beef brisket and have made lots of ragu sauces in the past and was looking foward to trying this very much. The result, however, was to me almost inedible. The ragu was extremely greasy, fatty and grainy. It reminded me of the horrible kind of overcooked chili you can get in cafeterias. The brisket I used was a beautiful cut, I actually braised half of it the week before and it was phenominal, so I cannot blame it on that. I am a very good homecook, but cannot deny I might have made some sort of mistake. But even chilling the sauce overnight and scraping off all of the solidified fats did not help. That said, my husband and inlaws still enjoyed the lasagna very much, despite the greasiness.

I have made this a number of times, and I can't get enough. I used to make Lydia Bastianich's bolognese sauce, which is fabulous, but this beats hers (sorry, Lydia!). I will never layer a meat lasagne with ricotta ever again...bechamel is so much more fantastic, so light, creamy, ehereal...gotta go make some more! P.S. I always make a double batch and freeze - turns out beautifully.

This is an excellent recipe- it is rich but still light as others have stated. There is some time effort to make the ragu but the results were worth it. We shared this with some foodie friends and they got a copy of the recipe and made it as well. A winning recipe.

I didn't personally make this recipe - my daughter-in-law did but we got to eat the other half when they went on vacation the day after she made it. Not sure what it tasted like the day she made it (my son said it was delicious) but it was fabulous the next day. My DIL did say it basically took all day to make it, but it was worth it!

This Lasagne recipe is absolutely phenomenal!! Made it for a large group of people along with a more traditional tomato based lasagne. Hands down the Beef & Pork Ragu won the hearts of EVERYONE! Will definitely make this again and again.

I love this recipe, the ragu is really delicious and nice change from the usual tomato based versions I've had in the past. I've made this twice now and was actually surprised that I liked it (a lot) better made with the chicken broth over the beef broth. Who would have thought since it is a beef and pork ragu. The beef broth made it too rich for me, whereas the chicken broth seemed to balance it out better. Try it both ways and see what you prefer.

Excellent! Husband loves this.

This is the first lasagne recipe I have ever tried. We have a very old and established family recipe but I wanted to try something new. This was excellent. I would but a layer of noodles on the bottom but other than that follow this exactly. I made two extra trays and froze them.

This is excellent! I love the ragu. I make an entire pan and freeze the leftovers for quick dinners. Its just as good on the second round!

all I can say is this is fabulous and I love making it every time because I know what the end result will be! Thanks for such a wonderful recipe.

I come from Bologna, where this recipe is one of the traditional Christmas first courses, together with tortellini. The recipe is almost perfect (compared to traditional, centuries old one), the only choice that could be argued with is the one of adding red wine to the ragu. Some families in Bologna add chicken livers and/or porcini mushrooms (boletus edulis) for a richier, tastier version of the ragu, but i find it too rich. Finally, you can try to use fresh tomatoes in summer (assuming the fact that you can still find real tomatoes in your region, grown under the hottest possible sun in real earth, with skin and shape irreguralities, but with incomparable taste) you will find that the ragu is slightly more acid, but very pleasant.

This lasagne is very different than the usual tomato and meat sauce type. The ragu is very concentrated, rich and meaty. Excellent for entertaining especially if you make the ragu the day before.

I was never a big fan of lasagna, with all the heavy melted cheeses and overpowering tomato sauce. This one changed my mind. It is the most amazing lasagna I've ever eaten! I love the light richness of the besciamella and the depth of flavor in the ragu. It takes a LOT of work, but for a special occasion, it is definitely worth it. I always make the ragu a day or two ahead of time; otherwise I would go nuts. This year I'm making it for my husband on Valentine's Day!

This is an absolutely beautiful lasagne - somehow it's rich, but light. Don't need to change a thing. I make 2 or 3 times the ragu and freeze so I can make a lasagne on short notice.

This is a favorite at my house. I make a double batch of the ragu and freeze for future use. The flavors of this lasagne are unique and create a rich and light dish. I've been making various recipes of lasagne for years, but this one is by far my favorite. I do usually make the ragu a day before just to spread out the work.

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