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Throwdown Lasagna

Serves: 6-8

Bolognese Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 lbs pork shanks (on the bone)
3 lbs beef shanks (on the bone)
¾ pound pancetta, finely diced
1 ½ cups finely diced Spanish onion
½ cup finely diced carrot
½ cup finely diced celery
4 whole garlic cloves
1 cup dry red wine
3 cups homemade beef or chicken stock
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices
4 Fresh thyme sprigs
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs flat leaf parsley
1 cup tomato sauce (recipe above)
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the shanks on both sides with salt and pepper, place in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the shanks to a plate. Remove fat from the pan. Add the pancetta to the pan and cook until golden brown. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. 
2. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until soft and lightly golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the red wine, scrape the bottom of the pan and cook until completely reduced. Add the beef stock, diced tomatoes, thyme, rosemary and parsley and bring to a simmer. Add the shanks and 1/3 of the pancetta back to the pan, cover and transfer to the oven and cook until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 2 hours. 
4. Remove the shanks to a cutting board and when cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl. Place 3 cups of the cooking liquid into a large high-sided sauté pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the liquid is reduced to about ¾ cup. Add the shredded meat and the remaining cooked pancetta to the pan along with 1 cup of the tomato sauce, parsley and basil and stir to combine and just heat through. 

Ricotta Mixture
3 cups ricotta, strained in a cheese cloth lined strainer for at least 4 hours
2 large eggs
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
Salt and pepper

Stir together the ricotta, eggs, parsley, cheese and salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. 


Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon red chile flakes
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the onions and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and red chile flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bring to boil, season with salt and pepper and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and basil. 


Bechamel (Mornay) Sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
4 ½ cups whole milk, heated
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated fontina cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and let cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 4 cups of the hot milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thickened and loses its raw flavor, about 5-7 minutes. Season the sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk in the cheese. If the sauce is too thick, whisk in some of the remaining milk.


Assemble
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bechamel Sauce
4 fresh sheets pasta, cooked for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling, salted water, drained or 1 lb lasagna noodles (cooked in boiling, salted water until slightly under al dente, about 5 minutes)
Ricotta mixture
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Fresh basil leaves
Bolognese 


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking baking dish with the butter. Ladle a thin layer of bechamel evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of pasta dough, cut to fit the inside of the pan on top of the béchamel and top the pasta with the ricotta mixture and spread evenly. Ladle an even layer of béchamel over the ricotta, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of parmesan and some basil leaves. Top with another layer of pasta and spread the meat mixture evenly over the top. Ladle an even layer of béchamel over the meat mixture, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese and some basil leaves. Place the final layer of pasta dough over the meat mixture and ladle the béchamel over the top to completely cover the pasta and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.
3. Place the pan on a baking sheet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350, remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 25 to 35 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into slices and top with some of the tomato sauce, more grated cheese and chopped parsley and basil


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