Searching for lasagne

Recipe research

One of the things that I want to do at One Roast Chicken is share perfect recipes with you, and that includes meals that don’t dirty every bowl in the house. I like recipes that come together easily, with regular ingredients, that taste better than the sum of their parts. Ones that when served to a guest, or to a prospective mate, they say “c’est vraiment bon” [this is very good].

My goal is to save you from take-out, and rescue you from crappy meals. You shouldn’t have to eat plates of dry pasta, or fish gone wrong, or greasy meat, or chewy vegetables. No, you can sit back and relax, because I’m going to find the best recipes for you. I’ll photograph them, describe what I’ve learned, and best of all you’ll have recipes that work!

At the request of a One Roast Chicken subscriber, I was asked to tackle lasagne … and I can tell you that finding the perfect recipe is a bit of a process. I started with my top three cookbooks (Joy of Cooking, The Gourmet Cookbook, and How to Cook Everything), and I read through the ingredients and explanations. Noodles and cheese and ground beef and tomato sauce. Yet none of the printed recipes sounded fabulous.

I counted the number of steps, the list of supplies, the number of pots that would get dirty, the length of time between when I’d start to cook and when I could eat, and I tried to imagine how the listed ingredients were going to taste all mixed together. Some recipes have zucchini. Some have cottage cheese. Yet others have a separately prepared white sauce layered with the other ingredients (yes, a béchamel sauce, not a cheese sauce, you read correctly, it sounds completely yucky to me).

I will admit that I’ve never been a big fan of most lasagne recipes. Perhaps it’s something about having a big plate full of the same flavour that gets me down. A perfect recipe should have nicely defined layers that hold together when cut, maybe using a homemade spaghetti sauce, with a lot of cheese, something that’s firm and moist without being drippy.

Lasagne trials

I started on the lasagne quest about two weeks ago. What was first a survey of my cookbooks and cooking magazines, soon became an internet search for potential perfect recipes. Trial #1, last week, involved uncooked noodles (a necessity, I think, in order to reduce work and the number of dirty pots). Trial #1 used homemade meat sauce (which takes time and didn’t make quite enough so I kind of ran out). The final verdict on #1, which included 9 noodles and 3 kinds of cheese, was that it was dry and unremarkable, and tasted altogether too much like my favourite cannelloni recipe. Why make lasagne when cannelloni is great already?

Trial #2, this week, included using two big jars of store bought sauce, with extra real sausage meat and red pepper flakes thrown in. I increased the noodles to 12, and replaced the ricotta with cottage cheese. I bought my mozza sliced (less work than grating it myself, and cheaper than pre-grated). At dinner on Thursday this week, Trial #2 was a bog of goopy noodles, and was much too salty. But here’s some good news. The next day, for lunch… it was quite great: it was drier, held together better, the flavours melded, and the saltiness had disappeared. But to cook a recipe only to claim it’s better served the next day? That certainly smells like effort. Too much effort for me.

Therefore, my search continues. I’ll report to you as I make progress. I think the ideal recipe will include a combination of prepared sauce spiced up with real meat … but at that point, why not go all the way and make homemade sauce with a bit of canned tomatoes and tomato paste? The jarred sauce is probably too salty, and therefore hard to adjust for different palates. I’d like something that isn’t too salty, but will that necessarily mean homemade sauce?

Rest assured that I’ll come up with something that I deem to be fabulous, and that I won’t share it with you until it’s perfect: easy, quick, worth the work, better than take-out. Because if it’s not better than take-out, what’s the point?

Anyway…

Welcome to the blog for One Roast Chicken. Here’s where I share bits and tricks about cooking, menu planning, and ideas to help you get dinner on the table. It’s my plan to get you inspired, to get you cooking, to make it easy enough for you to try.

And I’d love to hear back from you. Any ideas you have, any successes or failures, any pictures you’ve taken of recipes you’ve made … for example, have you made Chicken with Rosemary yet? (you have to register to receive the recipe). We’d love to share in your success stories, and hey, send me a picture of your completed bird and we’ll post that, too!

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

 

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2 responses to “Searching for lasagne

  1. Hey there!

    I have been struggling over the years to make a good lasagne. Every time it comes out goopy and when put on the plate it looks more like noodle slop then lasagne. The frozen pre-made ones that I have tried aren’t much better. They don’t taste as good as home made lasagne and if over heated they end up with burnt edges and are all runny.

    I’d be most interested in hearing of a recipe that didn’t diry every dish in my place and came out looking and tasting great. Please keep me posted on what you find works and doesn’t work.

    Have a great day.

  2. I also think that frozen lasagne is a waste of time, you’re right, it’s always too saucy… and burnt. And underspiced, and just plain boring. The organic ones (and/or the vegetarian ones) are even worse. Thanks for your encouragement… I’ll keep you posted on all new developments 🙂 … Shelley

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