Whether you call itCarnevale, Mardi Gras or Carnival, the decadent February feasts celebrated in Italy, New Orleans and Brazil are a treat. In Venezia, where the S&T family has deep generational roots, international revelers come far and wide to showcase their elaborate costumes – typically a year in the making. Today, Shrove Tuesday or “Fat Tuesday” is the pinnacle of the decadence before the season of Lent commences. So in honor ofCarne vale (which means “remove the meat” in Latin), we will enjoy meat to our hearts content today with this rich, satisfying lasagna! The bright bite of the rapini ricotta filling is the perfect balance to the luxe bechamel and hearty meat sauce. Personal photos of Carnevale are added for your enjoyment.
Recipe for Carnevale Meat Sauce
3 slices thick bacon, cut into lardons
1- onion, diced
1 1/2 carrots, shredded
1/4 fennel bulb, diced
2 cloves or garlic, minced
2 1/2 lb of meats (ground turkey, beef, veal, italian sausage or pork)
4 oz diced prosicutto (or other cured meat like salami or coppa)
1 cup red wine
1 cup milk
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp S&T Special Pasta blend
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
Saute bacon in 2 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add onion, carrot, fennell and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add all meats and brown for 5-7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup red wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Once liquid is almost absorbed, addtomatoe paste and the other 1/2 cup of wine. Once almost absorbed, add 1/2 milk. Repeat. Add all spices, bay leaf and marinara sauce. Simmer for 30-45 minutes on low heat.
Recipe for Bechamel Sauce
8 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
1/2 onion, shredded
onion pique – 1/2 onion (whole) studded with cloves and bay leaf inserted inside
freshly grated nutmeg
Melt 5 tbsp butter in medium saucepan on low heat. Add the flour little by little whisking vigorously to create a roux. The result should appear like sand at low tide. Add remaining butter, shredded onions and milk – whisking vigourously to remove lumps. Add onion pique and simmer for 20 minutes until thickened. Add nutmeg to taste. Pour through a mesh sieve to remove clumps and onion pique.
Recipe for Rapini Ricotta Filling:
1 bunch ofrapini or broccoli rabe, cooked and pureed in food procesor
16 oz ricotta
1 egg, beaten
2 cups shredded mozzarella (reserve one cup for layering)
1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for layering)
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley (chopped)
Combine all ingredients until well incorporated.
Assembling the Rapini Lasagna with Carnevale Meat Sauce
Pour 2 ladles of bechamel sauce at the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place a layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Add rapini ricotta filling by spoonfuls and gently smooth out the layer. Add a layer of meat sauce. Add a layer of bechamel topped with mozzarella and parmigianno-reggiano. Repeat. Final layer should be cooked lasagna noodles dusted with cheeses.
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour in 375 degree oven. Remove foil and cook another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit covered for 15 minutes.