Daring Bakers 17th Challenge: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge. I admit I frowned a little when I first saw the month’s challenge. Pasta doesn’t really fall within my definition of baking. But hey, it’d been cold and dreary and snowy in Vancouver, so pasta, and especially lasagna, was a good comfort-food remedy.

I had made pasta from scratch before in school, and at home. My honey gave me a set of KitchenAid pasta attachment kit for Christmas, so rolling the dough was a non-issue and quick. The recipe called for a spinach pasta. The process was straightforward, but for a little while, I never thought the dought would come together. Two eggs, 3-1/2 cups of flour and 300 grams of spinach, made for one dry, crumbly mass. But, after a while of working my dough scraper and sprinkling a bit of cold water, it all came together. Following the resting period, we used the KitchenAid to roll out the dough and set the strips to dry.

The challenge also required a homemade meat ragu sauce and a bechamel sauce.  I found the ragu sauce provided inspiring, but with too much meat and not enough spices, so I created this one, based on Lynne’s recipe:

LizG Meat Ragu Sauce

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

150 g pancetta, cubed

100 g hot chorizo, small cubed

3 cans of Italian stewed tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock

salt, pepper

Melt butter and sweat onions until translucent. Add the garlic and cook a few seconds. Add the pancetta and cook for a few minutes. Add chorizo and cook for a few more minutes. Add the stewed tomatoes and chicken stock, stir well. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-1/2 hours. When the sauce has reached desired consistency, remove from heat and cool. When still a little warm, use an immersion blender to puree sauce to desired consistency.

I made the sauce the night before to give the flavors a chance to deepen. The final results were quite nice, and after struggling with the dough (I should have chopped my spinach finer), was devoured happily. On to the April challenge!

Aside: The Daring Bakers has recently moved to gorgeous new digs at: The Daring Kitchen. What more,The Daring Cooks challenges are set to appear on the blogosphere very shortly. Drop by The Kitchen for more details.