Chef Tom- Mmmm, Lasagna….

Chef Tom – For fifteen years I managed as group of intrepid foodies who got together every other month or so to share a potluck-style feast. We would choose a different country or style of cuisine each time and we got to explore the world, going after the most authentic recipes we could find. We called it The Gourmet Club. Over time the members drifted apart for one reason or another. A few years later I started another one. Now we call it The Supper Club. Same premise. It’s not been going for eight years, with meals about every eight weeks or so.

My former boss and his wife have hosted every meal. They love it so much that early on they purchased something called an Amish Gathering Table, with seven leaves, that sits twenty-two people. Again, we’ve explored nearly every country in the world, and have returned to some of our favorites more than once. We’ve been to Italy many times. One time our theme was Le Marche, a mountainous region of Italy east of Tuscany, on the Adriatic coast.

I found a recipe for Lasagna Vincisgrassi, a traditional dish from Le Marche with a complicated history. I suspect my version is the “light” version, although it’s a serious undertaking, with four hours of cooking. This is one of those dishes that take all day to make, but the reward in flavor is well worth it. This would be perfect to invite a foodie friend, or friends, over. Have some wine and some antipasti and build a meal together around this incredible dish. Remember, life is less about the destination and more about the journey.

So, if you’re up to it, you’ll love the result, and it might just become your go-to “special occasion” dishes.

Lasagna

Lasagna Vincisgrassi

Serves 8

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 slice prosciutto di parma, 1/4- inch thick, about 6 ounces, diced

3 cups finely diced onions

1 cup finely diced celery

1 cup finely diced carrots

1 tbsp tomato paste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 1/2 pounds boneless veal shoulder, trimmed, in 1/4-inch dice

3 cups dry Marsala

2 cups veal stock

6 cups chicken stock

3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf, 1 sprig rosemary, 1 sprig thyme, tied together

Salt and black pepper

1 oz dried porcini

4 cups heavy cream

1 large egg

1 pound cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

5 sheets fresh pasta for lasagna, each about 9 by 12 inches

2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Shaved truffles for garnish

Directions:
Place 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto and sauté until starting to brown. Lower heat to medium-low and add onions, celery and carrots. Cook until soft but not brown. Stir in tomato paste and cook 2 minutes.

Heat 4 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add veal and sauté over medium-high heat until meat starts to brown. Transfer veal to the saucepan, draining it well.

Discard fat in sauté pan. Return pan to medium-high heat, add Marsala and boil, loosening the residue in the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced to 2 cups. Pour into saucepan. Add veal stock, 2 cups of chicken stock, cloves and herbs. Partly cover and simmer 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.

Place porcini in warm water to cover and soak. Meanwhile, make the bèchamel sauce by combining the cream and remaining 4 cups chicken stock in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook about 1 hour, until thickened and reduced to 2 cups. Pour into a blender and process on low, then higher speed. Add egg and process briefly. Taste and season with salt and pepper, strain into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Squeeze porcini dry and chop. Add remaining olive oil to a skillet, add all mushrooms and sauté until cremini have started browning. Fold into the veal mixture — the ragù — and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have a large bowl of salted ice water ready. Line a large baking sheet with kitchen towels. Add pasta sheets to boiling water one at a time, cook each 2 minutes then place in ice water. Drain pasta sheets and spread on towels to dry.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9-by-13-inch lasagna pan with remaining butter. Lay a sheet of pasta in pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Spread about 1/4 of the ragù over cheese. Spread on 1/2 cup cream sauce. Continue layering until covered with last sheet of pasta. Spread with remaining cream sauce, then remaining cheese.

Bake 25 minutes, until bubbling. Increase heat to 400°F and bake about 5 minutes more to brown the top. Remove from the oven and let stand 20 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Garnish with shaved black truffle if you’re feeling decadent.

On That Note

Marcin Patrzalek

What is it about prodigies? I think I have this age-old wound of being underappreciated, even vilified, in my family for being smart. Finding young people who excel at an early age scratches an ancient itch.

This guy is impressive. Been playing since he was 9. Not everyone likes “finger style” guitar, but I do. I appreciate the complexity of incorporating percussion and pulling more out of the instrument than one thought possible.

From his YouTube Channel: Marcin Patrzalek is a 18 year old Polish guitarist, musician and composer. In 2015 he won the 9th edition of Must Be The Music Poland being only 14 years old. He’s the only solo guitarist to have ever won a talent show that big in his native country.

He plays acoustic, classical, flamenco and jazz guitar, and also produces electronic music which he studies by himself. In 2016 he released his debut album ‘HUSH’ featuring 10 tracks, compiling Marcin’s own compositions, 2 arrangements and 2 remixes. HUSH (and tabs for all pieces) are available on http://marcinpatrzalek.com

BONUS TRACK

Ms. Miche Braden

Love me some PMJ. I’ve watched a hundred performance of Postmodern Jukebox. I love their retro-noir-old school stylizing and arrangements. This one came across my feed and it’s fascinating to watch Ms. Braden, who reminds me of Bessie Smith, do Prince. A sexy, soulful mashup. Mr. Bradlee has serious chops, as well.

Living legend Ms. Miche Braden – Diva Out Of Bounds – gives a stunning rendition of Prince’s biggest hit, accompanied by Scott Bradlee on piano.

=CTH=

Chef Tom is currently Resident Chef for a small tech firm in San Francisco. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at www.hippkitchen.com

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