Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving...and a culinary WIP!

Today is food day! As tradition dictates, we get together with our Italian friends in the area (our families are in Italy, as you know). There will be ten on us and no turkey will be stuffed and cooked...I know that in this we completely deviate from the American way, but none of us is really fond of poultry, so we will opt for an alternative menu. There will be prosciutto, salame, and assorted cheeses for appetizers. Some friends will bring a salad and a yummy chestnut soup. My husband cooked lasagne al forno. Other friends will bring some pork meat in a yet unknown recipe, and yet another one will provide dessert, his delicious bunet (a typical chocolate terrine from Turin). I feel heavier just talking about it...but who cares! Thanksgiving comes just once per year! ;)

Here are some WIP photos not of a drawing, for a change, but of the birth of the lasagne!

First came the sauce...we made it on Tuesday.

The lasagne are such a long process that we have to start early, as we both work full time. ;) We sauteed the beef together with carrot, onion, and celery. We added sage, rosemary, bay leaves, and marjoram. A glass of white wine gave extra flavor before we added tomatoes and a fair amount of water. We let the beast simmer slowly for a couple of hours, until the sauce became more concentrated (but not too need it fluid to keep the lasagne nice and wet when you cook them in the oven ;)).

Then came the pasta (yesterday after work): this is my district. I make it from scratch and I love it, although it takes quite a bit of time and energy. A couple of pounds of flour, 5 eggs, water, a bit of salt and two (reasonably) strong arms to mix the all thing.

The dough should be silky and firm.
Here we are making the noodles, or I should say le sfoglie for the lasagna. This part is a bit boring, but needs to be done. My husband helps me pulling the noodle with our Imperia machine. My mother does this alone, but four hands are much more efficient than two! :)
My hubby is also the wizard of the bechamel, a creamy sauce made with flour, butter, milk and a bit of salt. He is very good at making it smooth and with no clots or lumps of uncooked flour. Meanwhile I cut the fontina cheese in lots of tiny bits.
Finally, the time came to assemble the lasagne.The very first layer is sauce (strangely enough). Then we make a layer of sfoglie. Before putting the sfoglie in the oven pan, we quickly submerge them in boiling water. This sometime painful process ensures that the lasagne stay soft but with a certain "nerve" to them (as my mom says).

Then we lay some bechamel on the layer, then sauce, and last the cheese. Now we are ready for a second layer of hot sfoglie and the process keeps going until we are out of one of the ingredients (usually the sauce).
We cut the sfoglie in excess into fettuccine and either we cooked them for dinner with pesto. Yummy!

We cooked the lasagne at 350 F for about 1 hour...and we were finally done (we started at 4 and finished at 8)! Today we will warm them up just before eating them. They actually taste better the next day! ;)

But wait, I think the first guest are arriving....
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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