Lasagna alla Ferrarese

Lasagna in the Ferrara Style

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This traditional lasagna recipe from the city of Ferrara uses lots of ingredients and a specific way of making the basic ragù. It is saved for special occasions.

Ingredients

  • 300 g/11 oz spinach, rinsed
  • 200 g/7 oz/ cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 200 g/7 oz/generous 1 cup fine semolina
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 5 ml/1 tsp olive oil
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

For the Ragu

  • 130 g/ oz/9 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 115 g/4 oz pancetta, cubed
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 200 g/7 oz pork loin, roughly chopped
  • 200 g/7 oz beef steak (preferably rib-eye), roughly chopped
  • 200 g/7 oz prosciutto crudo, chopped
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp tomato paste, stirred into 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup beef stock
  • 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup dry red wine
  • 115 g/4 oz peas
  • 115 g/4 oz chicken livers, trimmed
  • 90 ml/6 tbsp double/heavy cream
  • sea salt and ground black pepper

For the White Sauce

  • 115 g/4 oz/½ cup unsalted butter
  • 115 g/4 oz/1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 litre/ pints/4 cups milk, warmed
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 150 g/5 oz/ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. To make the ragù, heat 115 g/4 oz/½ cup butter in a frying pan and fry the pancetta, carrot, onion and celery until the vegetables are softened. Add the pork, beef and prosciutto and cook until browned. Add the tomato paste and stock mixture and stir, then add the wine. Boil for 1 minute, to evaporate the alcohol, then add the peas, season and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, then remove from the heat.

  2. Meanwhile, make the pasta. Put the rinsed spinach in a pan with just the water that clings to the leaves, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Drain. Squeeze the spinach as dry as possible. Chop to a purée.

  3. Pile the flour and semolina on to the work surface and blend them together with your fingers. Make a hollow in the middle and pour in the eggs. Add the spinach and work the flour, spinach and eggs to make a smooth, elastic dough. Wrap in clear film or plastic wrap and leave it to rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a pan until foaming, add the flour and mix to a roux. Add the milk and whisk. Add salt and nutmeg. Simmer, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from the heat, stir in half the Parmesan, then cover the surface with a little cold water to prevent a skin forming.
  5. Take apple-sized balls of pasta dough and work them through a pasta machine from the widest setting to the narrowest. Alternatively, roll it out as thinly as possible. Cut it into 7.5 x 15 cm/3 x 6 in rectangles.
  6. Cook the lasagna sheets, four at a time, in a pan of salted boiling water for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of cold water with the olive oil, to keep them soft and stop them sticking together.
  7. In a separate pan, fry the chicken livers in the rest of the butter until browned, then stir into the ragù. Heat to a simmer, stir in the cream, then remove from the heat. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
  8. Cover the base of a large, shallow ovenproof dish with a little white sauce. Add a layer of lasagna sheets. Add a layer of ragu, followed by a little Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with white sauce and Parmesan. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.