Your friends will think you’re Italian once they try this dish you’ve spent some time on! This is enough for a family of 6, or two days of leftovers for a couple 🙂
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, finely diced
2 large cloves minced garlic
8 ounces pancetta, diced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good red wine, preferably Italian
2 28oz cans Italian plum tomatoes
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 pound ground sirloin, preferably aged ground sirloin
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano
10 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves only, washed and dried
2 large whole cloves garlic
1/2 cup flour
1 pound Italian sausage, a mix of hot and sweet. (you could substitute Belgian country sausage which is more of an herb emphasis)
1 15oz container ricotta cheese
2 extra large eggs
2 cups freshly grated pecorino Romano
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped basil
1 pound mozzarella, grated, preferably fresh
16 sheets fresh lasagna noodles, preferably Antica Pasteria
For the sauce, heat 1/2 cup oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Add the onions, minced garlic and pancetta. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until the onion are wilted. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Raise heat slightly, add the wine and cook until it is mostly reduced, about 20 minutes. Crush the tomatoes into the pan, and add their juice. Add the tomato paste and 2 cups lukewarm water, simmer for 1 hour.
Combine the sirloin, cheese and eggs in a large bowl. Chop the parsley with the whole garlic until fine, then stir into the beef mixture. Season lavishly with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix until all the ingredients are well blended. Shape into meatballs and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Dust meatballs with flour, shake off excess and lay into hot oil. Brown the meatballs on all sides (do not cook through) and transfer to the sauce.
Using the same skillet, brown the sausages over medium high heat. Transfer to the sauce. Simmer 1 1/2 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, pecorino Romano, parsley, basil and all but 1 cup of the mozzarella. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Remove meatballs and sausage from the sauce, set aside to cool then chop coarsely. Spoon a thick layer of sauce into the bottom of your pan of choice**, cover with a layer of noodles. Spoon more sauce on top, then add a third of the meat and a third of the cheese mixture. Repeat for two more layers using all the meat and cheese. Top with a layer of noodles and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle reserved mozzarella evenly over the top. Bake 30-40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
**I poured the sauce into a separate bowl because I wanted to cook in my Dutch oven. During the layering preparation, I had 3 separate bowls of ingredients plus the Dutch oven I was making layers in.
Enjoy the rest of the wine during dinner.