"la sagne"


for what ever reason this got re-published from an original blogged on january 3rd 013...

pronounced la saigny...

a pretty name for a first born girl. but actually a dish of ancient belly full, of greek and latin origin.

well, it ain't the most instantly beautiful dish i've ever made. in fact it do take time. prep time that is. all kinds of prep. and don't let anyone tell you it's a breeze. of course if you have a maid, better still a handmaiden, hey, there's all kinds of things you can do while your meat browns. as it is, i ain't got neither, i am a one man kitchen, as for the meat, the tomatoes, the cheese, the noodles and, above all, the clean-up. which i prefer to do, as in chess, en passant. which simply means that in the end, when the 'ninebytwelve' is in the oven, i have a reasonably clean kitchen. not that my kitchen could ever muster the swiss test.

browning the meat: there's two kinds: the pork sausage and the lean beef. the two go hand in hand. together with a good handfull of uncut parsley, same for stemmed sage, a good sprinkle of fennel seed, at least twenty four grinds of pepper, the hollow of your hand salt, a finely chopped onion, and a whole head of garlic, crushed. this all you stir in a hot pan, leggero e facile, so that nothing burns, but everything comes together evenly and eventually, yes, browned. i like to add a cup of anisette, on a fair fire it blows a blue flame over the meat, so be careful of your eyebrows. it also adds a lovely fragrance to this ever so slowly browning meat, no rush there.
and while this goes around, for about an hour and a half, i'll take the spell and complain bitterly about my year old, out of warranty stove, who's become a daily nemesis. it is a sad, five flame kind of whirlpool, which makes plausible heat under any pot. when, however, the pot decides to boil over, say during a nice mix of tomato and oil or a simple pasta boil, it drains into the flame basin. which, unless you have the above maid, is a bitch to clean. especially if you're like me and have a some such daily occurrence. furthermore, the side by side grid, on which those pots ramble, are by no means made of cast iron, but of a black anodized mixed sort of aluminium. it simply doesn't like to get scrubbed. so, cleaning the monster is a veritable hardship. now, as goes the oven. there are two, one above the other. the lower one  at floor level needs a midget to look into. the upper is nearly nine inches tall, hence likely good only for a cookie sheet or the above lasagna. at three-seventy-five it does'nt brown, at four hundred it burns. so, why do i own this thing? well, i do. the pictures didn't look half bad, who was to know that those grid-edges turn downward, you simply couldn't see any such detail on the prospectus. so, in reality a pot too close to the edge will simply fall off. oh well, time's up.

continue lasagna: cook the pasta, eight minutes to very al dente. drain and cool. now for the assembly. the various cheeses, the mozzarella, the ricotta, the parmesan, and the pecorino romano. the latter two grated. base will be the meat sauce, then layered pasta, ricotta and mozzarella, more pasta, a layer of parmesan, more meat, more cheese, more pasta and at the very top the romano. thirty minutes with foil and thirty without. this is what it looked like dreadfully fresh from the oven, absolutely straight, no decorations:


lasagna done, top to be browned with my handy propane torch. 
let's see how it cuts:


this food really is for stephanie. she loves this and will be full bellied for about a week. i don't know why, but the idea of lasagna makes my stomach go whirlygig. one portion and four alka seltzer later, i'm having a double laphroaig. life goes on, i suppose, i'm just not a 'lasaigny' kind of guy.