Labor of Love Lasagna

Beef chuck Ragu lasagna with homemade lasagna pasta and béchamel sauce

This lasagna is called Labour of Love because the cook time from start to finish is about 6 hours.  You will only put in this effort into yourself or someone you really care about, hence the name. I had only made lasagna once before I came up with this recipe.  I have made fresh pasta  numerous times from scratch, and I have braised many things from beef to pork to turkey legs.  The braising though time consuming, is well worth the effort in this recipe. A lot of people opt to make lasagna with simple ricotta, pre-made noodles and ground beef, but I think if you have the time, you should consider going all the way and try this one. Think of it as a self care tool that not only satisfies your soul but your stomach as well.

Ragu Lasagna with fresh basil garnish

I love the butcher shop, and any recipe that requires beef, makes my local butcher the first stop.  I took a quick walk to the butcher and I bought 2 lbs of chuck beef.  I kept the seasoning of the beef to a minimum, since it would be braised in many spices, wines and herbs for a few hours. Once you get the hang of braising, it becomes second nature.  The pasta recipe is a simple flour and egg mixture, but the labor came from having to hand roll the lasagna sheets using a roll pin. I am glad I have been working these biceps and triceps because they came in handy this day.


Let’s not waste anymore time because honey, we will be here for a while!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Braised Chuck:

2 lbs chuck beef

1 medium chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped red peppers

1/4 cup chopped green peppers

1/4 cup chopped yellow peppers

1 stalk chopped celery

2 bay leaves

1 bulb minced garlic

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tbsp minced hot peppers

Beef stock

2 tbsps olive oil

1/2 cups cooking wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste 

Pinch of salt

Pinch of ground black pepper

Lasagna Pasta:

4 eggs

2 cups flour

Bechamel Sauce:

1 1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp basil

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of salt 

Red pepper flakes

2 tbsps butter

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Garnish:

Fresh Basil

Lasagna Pasta:

Place most of the flour on the cutting board, I prefer a wooden cutting board for kneading. Make a hole in the center of the flour similar to a small volcano. Crack the eggs into the center of the flour.  Using a fork, gently break the yolks and mix with the whites before fully mixing them into the flour. Use the fork to bring the flour into your volcano and mix until the flour are combined. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you finish braising the beef.

Braised beef:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pat the beef dry and season with salt and black pepper. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven on high heat and add the beef chuck.  Let the beef brown on all sides for about 15 minutes. Place the beef onto a plate, and set aside.

Add the onions, celery and peppers to the pot and sauté on high heat until the onions are clear or about 10 minutes.  Add in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the burnt bits from the bottom of the dutch oven.  Return the beef to the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the beef. Add in the fresh thyme and bay leaves. Cover the dutch oven and bring the stock to a boil. Transfer the beef to the oven and cook until tender. The beef should take about 2 -1/2 hours in the oven. Remove the ragu from the oven and let the beef stand for about 30 minutes before assembling the lasagna.

Chopped pepper and onions

Béchamel Sauce:

Warm the milk in a saucepan to the point of slightly bubbling. In a separate saucepan (or microwave) melt the butter over low heat. Remove the butter from the the heat and gradually whisk in the flour, be careful about forming lumps.

Put the the butter and flour mixture, back on a low heat and add in the warm milk, salt, nutmeg, ricotta and red pepper flakes. Whisk continuously until the sauce thickens and becomes smooth.

Bechamel Sauce

Rolling the lasagna pasta:

Cut the pasta into 6 parts. To roll the pasta, sprinkle some flour onto your cutting board and coat the rolling pin. Unwrap the dough and press on it with the heel of your palm. Start rolling the pin back and forth on the dough until it is thin enough to see your fingers through it or about 1/16 inch thick. *When I made my pasta, you will see from the pictures, I divided the dough into 4 parts for thicker pasta sheets.

Assembling the lasagna:

Pour some béchamel sauce into the bottom of a 12” x 9” deep baking dish covering the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle some parmesan sauce.  Spoon the ragu onto the parmesan. Lay down the first sheet of rolled lasagna pasta and repeat this until all 6 sheets are laid. Sprinkle the top with parmesan and cover with foil and place in the oven. Bake the lasagna for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes.  Allow the lasagna to cool for 15 minutes before serving so it doesn’t fall apart when serving.

Plating:

Add a generous slice of lasagna to the plate and garnish with fresh basil. Serve with a simple arugula salad with vinaigrette.

I really loved spending these 6 hours on myself, creating this dish, it was a act of self care for me. The time, the effort and the resulting joy is worth it. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s