7 Days of the Food Network: Day 7, Ina Garten

April 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  So, we conclude our feature with the Barefoot Contessa herself.  Ina Garten is a master of comfort food, and so I decided I would make one of her lasagnas to really indulge my craving for creamy cheesy noodle-y goodness.  This lasagna uses a white sauce and portobello mushrooms instead of the usual tomato sauce and ground beef, and it is oh so rich that you will simultaneously want to eat all of it and feel sick at the thought of doing so.  I finally finished the leftovers yesterday and I miss it already!

A quick note before we begin: Erik and I made this together, and it was probably a very good idea that we did, because there is kind of a lot going on with this dish.  It could certainly be done solo — I’m sure Ina can do it alone! — but it’s easier and more fun with two people on the job.

look at those layers!

Ina Garten’s Portobello Mushroom Lasagna
(recipe found here)
Olive oil
3/4 lb dried lasagna noodles
4 c milk
12 tbsp butter, divided (you’ll need it in these amounts: 8 tbsp, 2 tbsp, 2 tbsp)
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 lbs portobello mushrooms
1 c Parmesan, grated

Preheat your oven to 375.

Ina starts her recipe off with the noodles, but I’d suggest starting with the white sauce.  We did our noodles first, and then they just had to sit around and wait for everything else to be done, and despite our best efforts to keep them hydrated and malleable, they were a bit difficult to work with when the time finally came to use them.  So here, we’ll suggest that you do them while the mushrooms are cooking.

For the white sauce: in a smallish saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer.  You’ll want to keep a careful eye on it to be sure it doesn’t curdle or congeal or anything — just keep stirring it regularly and don’t turn up the heat too high, and you should be fine.  Mine got very fine bubbles/froth after a while, and I decided to just call that simmering and be done with it.

In a medium-to-large saucepan, melt 8 tbsp of butter over medium-low heat.  Add the flour and stir continuously with a wooden spoon.  Cook this for about a minute.

flour + butter: delicious in any form

Add the still-hot milk to the flour and butter, as well as 1 tbsp salt, the black pepper, and the nutmeg.  Stir gently with a whisk, and cook over low heat until thick.  It did not take very long at all for ours to become quite thick, so don’t be surprised if you find the same.

so much sauce!

When thick, set aside.  You will need to keep an eye on this: come back to it and whisk it gently every so often to make sure that it stays thick but doesn’t set or anything.

Now, this is where we’ll deal with the noodles.  Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water, and add a splash of olive oil to it as well.  When it boils, add the lasagna noodles and cook until done.  Drain and set aside.

While you are waiting for water to boil and noodles to cook, you can start taking care of your mushrooms.

portobellos are so pretty

Separate the stems from the caps, if necessary, and discard the stems.  Slice the mushrooms.

little strips of mushroom

In a large pot or very large sauté pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter.  When the butter is melted, add about half of the sliced mushrooms, and sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have reduced quite a bit.

mushrooms are nearly there

Transfer this batch of mushrooms to a bowl, and add another 2 tbsp of oil and 2 tbsp of butter to the pot.  Toss in the second half of the sliced mushrooms, and repeat.

Now comes the fun assembly part!  Use an 8x12x2 baking dish.  Start off with a layer of sauce on the bottom, and then add a layer of lasagna noodles.  Then add another layer of sauce, and then about 1/3 of the mushrooms.  Sprinkle 1/4 c of the grated Parmesan on top of those.  If you want, you can add a layer of sauce on top of the Parmesan as well — we did and we still had a bit of sauce leftover.

delicious work in progress

Repeat this pattern two more times: noodles, sauce, mushrooms, cheese (and another layer of sauce if you wish).  Finish with a final layer of noodles, sauce, and the remaining 1/4 c of cheese.

seriously this entire thing weighs about a ton

Bake in your preheated oven for about 45 minutes.  The top will be browning and the sauce will be bubbly.

we had extra noodles so Erik made a noodle-flower and put it on top!

Let it cool for a few minutes, and then serve — preferably with a side of veggies to mitigate the ridiculous creaminess of this lasagna!

you can just feel your arteries clogging


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