Oh, hello there! Hello from the land of the loser blogger who never blogs. Andy says thank you very, very much for all of your kind comments about his post. The comments have been so funny lately! We love them — thank you. There is light at the end of several tunnels around here: I might even go outside today. If ever two people and one little dog were in need of a day-long walk in the woods. . . . Where to go? Portlanders, what are your favorite fall walks? Any suggestions?
Now: Would you like some lasagna? This is my mom's lasagna. It's the taste of home, for me. I told Josh and Keely, who came for dinner on Friday, that I couldn't be objective about it in any way. If I had to list words to describe it, "home" would come before "lasagna." It's one of a small handful of things of the present that can cross almost two thousand miles and more than thirty years and take me right back home: The cover of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. An empty pack of Newport cigarettes. The sound of a freight train at night. Humidity, and the smell of mulberries smashed on the sidewalk. The smell of an onion and a clove of garlic sauteing in vegetable oil on an autumn afternoon. That's the beginning of sauce.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pieces of bone-in beef short ribs (Note: Do not omit or substitute these — they are key to this sauce tasting like this sauce. Just sayin.)
1 16-oz. can whole tomatoes (break these up with your hands first, but be careful because they squirt all over the place)
5 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 2-inch pieces
Meatballs (recipe to follow)
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
Squish all ingredients with hands in large bowl, making sure the breadcrumbs are mixed in well. Take a golf-ball sized blob and squish back and forth between hands about 15 times, then roll in hands to form a ball. Set meatballs aside.
For sauce, in very large pot or Dutch oven, saute onions in oil over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Add short ribs and brown on each side. Add sausage pieces and brown well. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir. Gently add meatballs and stir. Bring to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 2 1/2 or 3 hours, stirring bottom often.
To make the lasagna, just place a layer of cooked lasagna noodles in a 9" x 13" pan, top with with two pounds of whole-milk ricotta cheese (mixed with a giant handful of chopped fresh parsley and two eggs), sprinkle with mozzarella and some sauce, add another layer of noodles, top with more mozzarella, drizzled sauce, and a bit of salt, and bake for 40 minutes or so at 350 degrees F. Serve with a giant glass of ice-cold milk. Mmmm, milk (I know, apparently I am the only adult in the universe who drinks milk with dinner, or asks for a glass of it at fancy Italian restaurants).