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Monday, December 9, 2013

Braised Short Rib Lasagna

Short Rib Lasagna
I have two issues with lasagna: I am not a huge fan of ricotta cheese and I like ground beef even less. Enter short rib lasagna. No ricotta cheese, shredded short ribs and a rich b├ęchamel sauce. I knew it would be a winner. The recipe is time intensive, but very little of the time is active. Which makes it perfect for a dinner party.   I had the lasagna assembled and ready to bake when the guests arrived.  Which allowed me more time to socialize, always a benefit at any dinner party.  This lasagna makes 12 generous servings.  Miss F and I enjoyed the leftovers for a couple days after the party.  I omitted the mushrooms from the original recipe to accommodate one of my guest's preferences, but next time I make it I will add them.  Because I love all mushrooms!  C and Miss F probably prefer it without.
Braised Short Rib Lasagna

1 ½ pounds boneless beef short ribs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 box no-boil Lasagna noodles

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the short ribs, in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until it darkens 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and add the bay leaf. Simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits as you go, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Return the short ribs to the pot. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, turning the ribs every 30 to 40 minutes, until the meat is
fall-off-the-bone tender, 2 ½ to 3 hours total.

Use tongs to remove the ribs from the pot and move them to a plate to cool. Pour the sauce into a heatproof bowl and discard the bay leaf. Allow to sit for a few minutes, until the fat rises to the surface. Be sure to get as much fat off as you can, or the tomato sauce will be greasy. Skim it off with a large spoon and discard. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove any fat or cartilage. Shred the meat and set aside in a medium bowl.

Make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a 3-4 quart saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook until golden, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and add the garlic clove. Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring often, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Fish out the garlic clove and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix the bechamel sauce into the tomato sauce.

Assemble and bake the Lasagna. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread ¾ cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish and cover the sauce with a slightly overlapping layer of the noodles. Spread ¾ cup of sauce over the noodles, and add ½ cup of the shredded meat over the sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the shredded Parmesan cheese.

Add another layer of noodles, then repeat the layers as instructed above, to make a total of 3 layers of meat and 4 layers of noodles. At this point you should have used all the meat, but still have some sauce and cheese left over. Spread ¾ cup of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional cheese as desired when you serve.
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