La Lasagna Napoletana proves that food is not only made by ingredients but rather there are more elements in a recipe: culture, history and tradition.
THE LASAGNA NAPOLETANA.
Everyone knows what a Lasagna is: different layers of pasta sheets, Bolognese sauce, bechamel, parmigiano etc.
But not everyone knows that there’s another version: la Lasagna Napoletana. One of our favorite food bloggers Luciano Pignataro describes it as “una pernacchia alla fame” which literally means a “mock to the hunger”.
In Italy the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) is called Carnevale ( or Martedi Grasso, Mardi Grass), a festivity that mixes paganism and Christianity.
In the past, having a big meal in Napoli was something reserved for special occasions like on Sundays or other festivals like Carnevale; which was ( and still is) a sort of exception from the routine, the daily monotony, an escape from the days made by hours and minutes, something out of the ordinary.
It was also an escape from the poor meals that the people usually had. Neapolitan people are famous for their capability to minimize the problems and, sometimes, find even a way to laugh of them.
The Lasagna Napoletana was an expression of abundance.
For one day people could forget about poverty and have a rich meal. For one day they could laugh at their hunger.
This version of Lasagna is made with pasta sheets , the ragu sauce (tomato sauce, mix of fine chopped vegetables and meat), meatballs, boiled eggs, salame, provolone, ricotta, pecorino cheese and pulled meat from the ragu.
You will be full for sure!
LASAGNA NAPOLETANA, THE RECIPE.
Let’s start with the ingredient (for 10 person):
- 1 kg of Lasagana sheets (we used Barilla);
- 500 gr of minced meat (beef&pork);
- 500 gr of “Cervellatine” (thin sausages);
- 500 gr of pork ribs (the one with some fat);
- 1 1/2 Lt of Tomato sauce;
- 500 gr of ricotta;
- Pecorino cheese;
- Provolone ( or scamorza);
- 20 or more Salame slice;
- 8 eggs (5 to be boiled and 3 for the meatballs);
- stale bread;
- parsley and basil;
- salt & pepper;
- extra vergin olive oil
The sauce: il ragu.
First of all let’s start with the sauce, the ragu. This will not be like the one of the Sunday, it doesn’t have to be cooked for six hours but, at instead for two hours. As we said the ragu is not just meat with sauce.
For the ragu we need a good balance of pork and beef: 5 thin sausages – in dialect are called Cervellatine
( because they look like a brain when laid on a tray. What’s that face? C’mon! don’t be fussy!); and a couple of pork ribs with enough fat. Like always for our meat we go to the best butcher in town: Nino’s & Joe’s
Start cutting in fine cubes an onino, a carrot and a celery stalk.
Make a soffritto (shallow fry) with them till they become softer. Add the sausages and the pork ribs and let them brown.
Cover everything with the tomato sauce and slow cook for a couple of hours.
The stuffing: il ripieno.
The stuffing of this lasagna is incredible. It is a triumph of elements: cheeses, eggs, salame, pulled meat and meatballs. Just reading it all makes you sweat!
Start with boiling eggs. Very simple. But, even for something so simple everyone has a different style. We put the eggs in a pot with cold water and then we put it on the stove. When the water starts to boil, cook the eggs for no more than ten minutes. Put the pot in a sink and fill it with running water to cool down. It will be much easier to peel the eggs later.
Now it’s time of the Polpette! (meatballs)
Soak a piece of stale bread in some water till it becomes soft. Squeeze it to remove the water or it is gonna be too wet. In a bowl mix the bread, the minced meat (beef and pork), a little bit of pecorino cheese, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Add three eggs and mix everything.
With hands (of course! in the kitchen you have to use the hands!) make small balls from the mixture and put it aside.
In a pan fry the polpette with olive oil until golden brown, then lay them on cooking paper to absorb the oil.
Look how beautiful they are! You would eat them already. But, don’t rush! Aspetta! You have to wait as they are for stuffing the Lasagna!
Now, we have everything.
Pst! hey, listen, if at this point you are hungry, and you have some spare slice of salame and scamorza, make a panini, and eat it.
The construction of the Lasagna.
In a big oven tray (not too big or it will not fit into the oven despite how eager you are…) start to pour some sauce on top, then lay down the lasagna sheets and cover the bottom.
Spread more sauce on them, then : ricotta, pecorino, meatballs, pulled meat, salame and scamorza. Sauce. Another layer of pasta sheets. Sauce. Ricotta, pecorino, pulled meat, the boiled eggs sliced – ..did you peel them?good! – salame and scamorza. Repeat till you have used all the ingredients. The taller the better.Exaggerate. It’s just for one day!
It is almost done. Cover the top with more sauce and more pecorino. Now put the Lasagna in the oven at 150 °C for 20 min.
Serve it hot. And as always, if there are some leftovers, no worries, in the Italian cuisine there is no waste. La lasagna is even better the next day!
You can’t have this dish without a glass of wine. Non scherziamo!
We raccomend an Australian Cabernet -Shiratz, Yalumba The Scribber.
An authentic Australian style, this is a rich and full bodied wine showing red currant and plum fruit characters, underpinned by dark chocolate and spice. It goes down perfectly with this recipe.