Homemade Lasagne and Mozzarella

Story and photos by Mark Bittman

My partner Kathleen and I made lasagne (each sheet is a “lasagna”; lasagne is plural), the other night. I never thought it was the kind of thing you needed much of a recipe for, unless you were making a fancy, sort of béchamel-and-mushroom kind of thing. But a) we’d been making fresh pasta with some regularity and b) we had some ricotta and some potential mozzarella from Caputo Brothers. (Which might consider changing its name to Caputo “Family” given that the family member on their videos is Rynn Caputo, a woman.)

Anyway. Kat is a lasagne expert, I think it’s a pretty easy thing, a friend’s dog had died (actually two friends’ dogs had died in the same day, but to one I sent flowers because she’s too far away for a lasagne), we had these cheese curds and some local (Glynwood, in fact) spinach, tomatoes, beef, and eggs, and some really good flour from Community Grains and Wild Hive, both, so on a lark we decided to make the best possible lasagne.

Of course we also decided to make it as difficult as possible, so we made both the noodles (which came out beautifully, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, 4 eggs, food processor, pasta rolling machine, could not be easier) and the mozzarella, the making of which I would say is going to take some practice.

It’s not that Rynn’s video isn’t so great (though really, it isn’t), and it’s not that I haven’t made mozz before (I have), it’s just that it’s the kind of thing you really need a feel for. All you do is buy these curds from the Caputo family, mix them with hot water, and stretch them. (Next time I’m making my own curds. I mean, if you’re going to work from scratch….) But evidently if you don’t stretch them properly, rather than yielding a beautiful, tender round of mozz, you get a ball of rubber with which you could literally play catch for a half-hour.

So. We made gorgeous noodles, we mixed the spinach with the (very nice) ricotta, we made a tomato sauce with beef (and garlic, and whatnot), and we layered things appropriately, one pan for us and one for the poor soul who’d lost his dog. We baked them slowly, lovingly, while drinking wine, making a salad, and losing (me) at backgammon.

And it was beautiful, and delicious, if you put aside the need to cut the mozzarella with a knife and chew it as if it were a piece of overcooked skirt steak. We’ll have another go at it soon.

Posted in Italian

2 Comments

  1. I didn’t every see someone who made lasagne at home. I really like your post. I will definitely try this

  2. Maria said...

    Have you had luck before using fresh mozzarella for the top layer of your lasagne? I have not. I find it’s great for the middle layers, but not top. It just gets too cooked, too firm, too browned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *