This is the most original and most traditional version of the quintessential Bolognese dish which has become so popular (and has been so bastardised) all over the world. Starting from this basic recipe, many other traditional versions of the dish have since evolved. If lasagne verde (green lasagne) is not your favourite, the white, plain variety works equally well.
Because of its lengthy preparation, this dish is reserved for special occasions.
Have ready a suitable ovenproof dish which is attractive enough to carry to the table-
Make the meat sauce first. Mince or process the pork, beef and prosciutto crudo together. Melt half the butter and fry the carrot, celery, onion and pancetta or bacon for 5–6 minutes. Then add the minced meats, pour in the diluted tomato purée, season and stir. Cover and leave to simmer for about 1 hour. During this time never let it dry out, but keep adding a little hot broth or water and stir it frequently.
Meanwhile, prepare the pasta. Squeeze the spinach completely dry in your hands, and push it through a sieve or process to a pulp. Put about
Make the Besciamella. Season and brush the top with a little butter to prevent a skin forming. Set it aside in a warm place.
Bring a very large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta strips in it 1 or 2 at a time for about 2 minutes. Remove them with a fish slice, rinse in cold water and lay out on a wet tablecloth without letting them overlap or touch each other. Continue until all the pasta strips are cooked and laid out on the tablecloth.
By this time the meat sauce should be ready. Stir in the chicken livers and cook for 5 minutes, then pour in the cream and add the truffle (if using). Stir and taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary, heat through for 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
At this point you must clear the decks as much as possible to give yourself room to assemble the dish. You will need your ovenproof dish, the Besciamella, the pasta strips, the meat sauce, the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Everything else can be washed up and put away.
Butter the dish, then arrange a layer of pasta strips on the bottom. Cover with a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of Besciamella, then some Parmesan. Continue in this way until you have used up all your ingredients. The last layer should be pasta covered with a thin coating of Besciamella with the last scraps of butter dotted over it and a final dusting of Parmesan. Now the dish is ready for the oven. Bake it for 30 minutes, remove and rest for 5 minutes and serve it directly from the dish. Resting it in this way makes it much easier to cut and serve.
© 1990 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.