3 Chefs Make Lasagna 3 Ways: Traditional, Modern, & Experimental
Released on 12/16/2021
The last thing we're gonna add to this is.
There you go.
Thank you. You got it.
[soft jazz music]
All three of our lasagna should be saucy.
It's gotta have layers.
Needs a pasta element.
And I think the top needs to be crispy.
Today I'm gonna be making traditional lasagna
and I'm actually drawing from
our very own BA's Best Lasagna recipe,
which is developed by none other than Chris Morocco.
When I think of lasagna,
I think of those classic alternating layers.
And that's exactly what I'm going for.
I'll be making a modern lasagna.
I think this is a modern take
because of the way I am kind of forming the lasagna.
The layers are sort of vertical
as opposed to horizontal.
Visually I think this is gonna stand out
from the traditional version.
I will be tackling the experimental version.
So a lot of the elements that I'm gonna be using
in my lasagna
are things that I've not seen used in lasagna before.
All I'm hoping is that somebody
is able to take a look at what I've made and say,
Oh yeah, I get it.
That looks like lasagna to me.
[low beat music]
Pasta's role in lasagna is really the same
as pasta's role in any other pasta dish.
Can have lasagna without it.
It is the base that's going to carry all of your cheeses
and your sauce.
It's really there to provide support
and allow you to kind of build up in the casserole
so that it's not just, you know, soup on a plate.
Today I'm gonna be using fresh pasta.
The real benefit to me, I think,
is the flavor and texture unparalleled.
Because these are fresh and pre-sliced,
I don't need to cook them.
You generally need something
that's a little soupier or saucier
when you're using raw pasta,
because the noodles will absorb more of it as it cooks.
If the whole point of this was to showcase how amazing
traditional lasagna can be,
it's gotta be fresh pasta.
I'm gonna use the dry flat pasta sheets.
My layers are going to be vertical.
So I need something sturdy to hold everything up
and make sure that they don't like collapse on each other.
The difference between fresh and dry pasta
is that texture wise
it has more bite to it.
Fresh pasta is fresh
and that's why it's softer.
I don't think you're gonna get the same amount of chew
that you would get from a dry pasta.
It should taste like the sea.
I like to separate each sheet.
After they're done boiling
I'm going to shock them in ice water,
because I want to immediately stop the cooking process.
I tested this recipe one time at home
and I use just a regular store brand pasta.
I'm using a fancier brand of pasta today
so I hope that I get the same texture.
What happened with the store-bought pasta was that
it was like this one, it was hot,
but then when it cooled it relaxed
and it was more malleable.
And that didn't happen with this.
So this is going back.
They all need to go back.
I can't, I cannot bend this
even when it's cold, it'll break.
The ice water made the pasta too hard.
So this time I'm just using cold water, no ice.
I am finally happy with the texture of my pasta.
They are ready.
I feel like I'm on record
as having said that lasagna needs to have pasta in it
in order to be considered a lasagna.
And I do not have that in my experimental approach.
So I've really broken my own rules here.
I decided to make a cracker instead of pasta,
but I decided to make a cracker that's as much like pasta
as you can get.
I'm leaning on a style of cracker called Carta Di Musica,
which is very, very, very thin.
So we're gonna make a dough using semolina flour.
It's effectively pasta dough, right?
But instead of boiling it, we're gonna bake it.
I was inspired by a free form approaches to Napoleon's
that I've seen.
A Napoleon it's like a very classic pastry
that's layers of puff pastry and pastry cream.
And sometimes with a little bit of finishing icing.
I was taken with the notion
of building a lasagna freeform on a plate.
And there wasn't really a great way in my mind to achieve
that kind of lightness using a boiled noodle.
I wanna roll it through a pasta machine
to very, very thin sheets.
It's just making it so that the dough
is gonna wanna be like perfectly flat and even.
Which means your cook time,
whether it was in water or whether it was in the oven.
Oh God, I got a fold.
I wasn't paying attention.
We're falling apart.
I am cutting our cracker at 3 1/2 inch intervals.
We're gonna dock these.
This is to control how much they bubble.
So this is a tester.
The flavor is good.
It's going to give us like our tender
yet super crunchy stackable element
that's gonna look and kind of stand in for pasta.
[Rachel] You're fine, you're fine, you're fine.
Did I not mention that I would be baking
like individual crackers in your oven
while you need to use the stove.
[Chris] You choose this life. Sorry.
Look at that.
Color's looking good.
I think we're gonna be able to get a nice stack
four or so high,
which will get us some height on the plate.
Feel good about that, right?
I'm going to be making a Bolognese for my sauce.
So Bolognese is a type of Ragù or meat sauce.
I'm using a mix of pork and beef.
What I'm going to do is start by forming all of the meat
that I'm going to use into meatballs.
I'm gonna sear those off, get them nice and brown.
As opposed to trying to get a large amount
of loose ground meat to brown,
we're going to cook the meatballs kind of spaced apart.
And that way we sort of really ensure
that they're going to brown rather than steam
and turn kind of gray and drab,
which is like not what we want.
So this looks very nice to me.
You can see it's beautifully brown
on all of its infinite sides.
I'm gonna get these guys out onto a clean sheet tray.
And then I'm gonna go in with my second batch
and repeat the exact same thing.
I'm gonna be making a spicy vegetarian tomato sauce.
Spicy red sauce is not that unusual,
but I haven't seen it in lasagna,
which is why I thought this would be a great idea.
So I have a 12 inch skillet here.
I'm gonna use this to make my sauce.
And then I'm going to use the same skillet
to cook our lasagna.
My sauce is going to have
some crushed San Marzano tomatoes,
we're gonna stir it all and olive oil.
There's a little bit of cumin
and some red pepper flakes for a little kick.
It's not gonna be in your face spicy.
It's a way of adding more flavor to the tomato sauce.
There's no meat,
which is why I'm using kind of trashed chunkier tomatoes.
So like, that's going to add that texture to it.
I can taste some of the cumin.
Little bit of kick to it.
Watch out Chris.
I heard watch out, Chris.
What am I watching out for exactly?
Oh yeah, the heat.
There's like Rachael levels of heat, you know?
And then there's like regular people levels of heat.
You just, you know, you gotta like know
like where to-
where to sort of distinguish between the two.
Heat, like actual chili heat
is something you do not see in a lot of lasagna.
I don't think you can have, like,
a really intensely spicy sauce.
Like, do you need a balance.
You need a counterpoint.
The sauce is done.
Super quick, super flavorful.
Doesn't have to simmer for hours.
We want this to have quite a bit of moisture
because that's how the pasta is going to cook.
So my sauce is actually gonna be a Mushroom Terrine.
So a Terrine is a gently baked curd neat preparation.
However, in my case,
I'm gonna be using cooked mushrooms.
I would not consider a Terrine sauce.
I don't quite understand even how that works.
Hear me out.
One of the things I really like about Ragù Bolognese
is that the meat over the course of hours
breaks down until it practically melts in your mouth.
I wanted a similar effect with mushroom.
So the base of the mushroom Terrine
is resting on a foundation of cooked mushroom Duxelle.
Mushroom Duxelle is just a finely chopped mixture
of mushrooms that is cooked down with other aromatics.
I'm gonna be using combination of Maitake
and Cremini mushrooms.
Cremini mushrooms give you a lot of bulk
without necessarily tons of flavor.
Whereas Maitake mushrooms have incredibly intense
fill your mouth mushroom flavor.
Already there's so much flavor there.
Like it takes hours to get to that point
where that Ragù is going to be ready.
We have one duxelle mixture
that's like relatively finely chopped.
I'm going to do some more mushrooms
that are gonna be, like, actually,
like, quite roughly chopped.
But I do wanna have some bigger,
more recognizable pieces of mushroom in that matrix.
I'm gonna put some of this other shallot in
with our big pieces of seared mushroom.
It's just there to back up the mushroom.
So we need some water to soak our Porcini mushrooms in.
Porcini has a lot of concentration.
And when it's dried and then reconstituted with water,
you get like a mushroom tea from it.
We want to hold on to that.
There's a lot of flavor there.
The actual dried Porcini itself.
We're gonna combine with heavy cream
and blend in the food processor.
Heavy cream is gonna bring a lot of fat to this mixture.
We're gonna go with three whole eggs,
small amount of ground meat.
It's gonna be a little bit of insurance
that the Terrine is going to hold together.
So we need to chop our prosciutto.
Cured pork products is gonna give you
tons and tons of flavor.
A little breadcrumbs gonna help keep the Terrine together.
Cayenne in a small quantity
is just gonna kind of lift the flavor a little bit.
Moderate amount of nutmeg is a component that you often find
in traditional Béchamel.
So this is our sauteed pieces of Cremini
and Maitake that I'm now gonna fold
into the Terrine mixture.
Our next stage is we're gonna start building some flavor.
The onion is going to bring some sweetness,
is really going to anchor the flavors.
The celery has that super herbaceous note.
Then the carrot is super sweet.
We're also going to be adding some garlic,
some Pancetta too.
It's just going to help amplify that meat flavor
and add just a little bit more richness.
The Pancetta which had all that fat,
all of that has released into the pot.
And so we have a really nice space
for sweating all of our vegetables.
And now you can see immediately once I add the veggies,
all of that brown stuff at the bottom is lifting up.
Which is great news because it means that all that flavor
we spent so long working so hard to build
on the bottom of the pot
is now being scraped up into our sauce base.
I would say tomato paste
is one of the most important ingredients.
It's essentially super, super concentrated tomato flavor.
I'm going to add white wine,
going to act as our de glazing agent.
In go my crushed tomatoes.
Every layer that we add to this sauce,
we're reducing it down
to its most intensely flavorful elements.
I have a cup of chicken stock and a cup of milk,
adding that really extra layer of creaminess.
So I'm just going to bring this whole thing to a simmer
and then it's going to go in the oven.
My oven set to 225 now.
We just want to penetrate it with really gentle heat
so that it is really kind of melting by the end of it.
Melty, not dried.
We're gonna check on that in maybe an hour.
This is a Terrine which refers to the mold.
So I just want this to be a really even layer
so that I can slice through it
and not have to do like any trimming.
Water baths suck.
You are literally guaranteed to burn yourself with hot water
at some stage of the process.
The point of a water bath is that you are cooking things
at very gentle heat.
So it's a way of cooking things very slowly,
gently, and evenly.
Okay, let's see.
You can see that the liquid in the pot
has reduced down significantly.
We're just going to go in and break apart the meat
until this basically becomes a chunky meat sauce.
It's really striking to me how you get
both the deep flavor of the tomato paste
and that bright acidic sweetness
of the fresh crushed tomatoes.
So this is perfect.
I'm gonna lift the Terrine itself
out of that pan of water.
It should indeed look like not that much happened.
We're gonna let this cool and also press it,
which is gonna compact it just slightly
and then let it cool completely before we slice it.
I think vegetables in the lasagna
can make for an uneasy partnership in certain cases.
But I think they can add tons of flavor and texture.
While there is a small amount of vegetables in my sauce
I am not going to be doing a separate vegetable layer.
What I'm going for,
and you'll see this when I build the lasagna itself,
is super homogenous layers.
Having a vegetable in there would kind of throw that off.
Totally fine, we'll just leave it out.
For my veggie option.
I'm gonna do a sliced zucchini.
It is super mild.
It wouldn't overpower my lasagna,
but it would add a good amount of chewiness to it.
Like we had with the lasagna sheet.
You want it to be malleable and not too thick
because we're gonna roll it up like that.
Zucchini has a lot of water content.
So the salt is going to draw out some of that moisture.
Depending on how spicy her tomato sauces is,
you may want a more kind of like
neutral vegetable flavor in there just to kind of offset it.
I'm gonna let this hang out for 10 to 15 minutes
and that's gonna draw out even more moisture.
I'm going to be shingling
and cooking King Trumpet mushrooms to use as a garnish.
I even want to try activa-ing them together.
Activa is this substance called transglutaminase,
which binds proteins together.
So I'm just doing like a super thin layer over these
as an experiment to see if we can get this to hold together.
The intention is for this to be a single sheet of mushroom
that kinda rests on top.
So that's option A, okay.
Option B, if that doesn't go according to plan
is going to be to cook those coins of mushroom freeform,
and then arrange them over the top of the lasagna
to serve it.
It's almost like a mushroom chip, you know.
This is just a possible garnish.
Nothing's like hinting on this,
but I think like we've got something that's like workable.
At this stage,
like, these have bonded together.
It's now like functioning as one unit,
but will it do so after we cook it.
The mushroom, you know,
shingle let's call it,
is so far more or less holding together.
See, it's kind of coming apart.
The only chance it has at this point of pulling together
is to cool.
We're gonna set it aside.
We're gonna also set aside the freeform mushroom garnish.
Is it even gonna work?
We'll have to see.
There's something really quintessential and delicious.
I'm so distracted by these window washers.
Veggies can come and go.
Meat can come and go.
Like all that stuff can come and go.
But like cheese,
you cannot have lasagna without cheese.
You just can't.
It's not only delivering texture.
It's also just delivering that creamy, super rich flavor
that I feel like we all know and love from lasagna.
For my cheese layer
I'm going to make a Béchamel sauce with parmesan.
It's essentially milk that has been thickened with a mixture
of butter and flour that are cooked together
and what's known as a roux.
And then we'll add some grated cheese and some seasonings.
I am delighted that Christina is employing
a traditional Béchamel,
that for me, defines lasagna
even more so than any kind of tomatoey sauce
or any particular kind of noodle.
I like to start by adding the milk kind of gradually,
and this just helps minimize any lumps you might have
in the finished sauce.
So while my milk is coming to a simmer,
I'm going to grate my cheese.
I am using a nice big hunk of Parmesan.
There's something really lovely about having parm
be your only cheese flavor,
because it's so aggressively nutty and fragrant and salty.
And you can see the cheese is also making it
I want it to have the consistency of something like Queso.
I want it to be smooth and thick, really glossy.
And most of all, I want it to taste really good.
So at this point,
all we need to do is season it.
Pinch of nutmeg.
Little pinch of cayenne.
Really good amount of black pepper.
So let me give this a taste now.
That's very yummy.
I'm gonna add the tiniest bit more salt.
Okay, that is done.
Ooh, very nice.
Okay, the last thing I'm going to do is wrap this
with some plastic wrap
so that the Béchamel doesn't form a skin.
And then we're just gonna let it sit
until we're ready to build our lasagna.
For my cheese
I'm gonna be doing a Spinach Ricotta mix
with lots of Parmesan.
So I have some Ricotta,
a little bit of Parmesan cheese,
which is gonna add like that salty bite to everything.
And then the blanched spinach gets folded into this mixture
and then finish it off with some Mozzarella.
But when I was talking to Chris,
he made that super clear too.
He's not a fan of Ricotta based lasagnas.
Ricotta for me, can take on
a little bit of like a spongy
kind of grainy texture when it's baked.
This is not gonna be granny.
To make it a little bit more airy and creamy and lighter
I am whipping it in a food processor
and I'm also adding milk,
which is gonna give that really silky smooth texture.
Those extra little steps done to the Ricotta
is really what makes it modern.
Is that your Ricotta?
For her context,
Ricotta makes a certain amount of sense
because of the way she needs to assemble her pinwheels.
I don't think you'd be able to do that with Béchamel, right.
And be trying to eat a soup sandwich.
That made so much of a difference.
We're gonna fold in the spinach.
I'm using a little bit of nutmeg
in my kind of Ricotta cream mixture
because in like a traditional classic Béchamel sauce
there is nutmeg
and I wanted to pull in some of those elements.
I think this looks pretty great.
For my sort of cheese element broadly speaking,
I'm gonna be doing a Mushroom Sabayon.
I'm also going to be making Parmesan Crème Patissière.
So Sabayon is kind of a world apart from cheese, right?
But it's gonna give you something creamy.
It's gonna give you something similar
from the standpoint of the mouthfeel.
I just want the flavor
to go way in the direction of mushroom.
So we're going to start with the mushroom Sabayon.
A Sabayon is a cooked egg yolk mixture
that becomes very light and very foamy.
I'm gonna take egg yolks,
just enough sugar to give it some stability and structure.
I'm gonna do two tablespoons of the dry Marsala.
I'm gonna put in our mushroom seasoning
that I reconstituted with Porcini liquid.
And then an extra tablespoon of Porcini soaking liquid.
That mixture is then gonna be whisked
over a hot water bath
so that it heats up very gently as it incorporates air.
As I whisk it with a hand mixer.
See how it's like it's foamy, but it holds its shape.
It's actually got some structure to it.
Will it keep that structure?
I don't know.
Something just weird happening with like the egginess
with the sweetness
in the mushroom and the Marsala.
The Marsala is giving this, like,
introducing this like fruit element,
that's like, maybe not working.
So we're gonna go again on this.
[low beat music]
I think that's about as far as I want to go.
This is the one with Marsala.
This is the one just with mushroom.
I'd really love to be able to pipe this mixture.
So to that end,
we're gonna try to thicken part of it with gelatin.
I just want to distribute it really evenly.
It's a little sweet, but it's mushrooming.
Let's just keep moving.
I see the Parmesan Crème Patissière
as kind of a stand-in for Béchamel.
It's not trying to do anything radically different
from what Béchamel would do,
but just rather function better in this assembly
in this context.
So this is a starch bound savory custard
lightened with whipped cream.
I've got milk.
I'm gonna put some nutmeg in, not too much.
I'm gonna heat this up.
The yolks are gonna give richness.
They give flavor, they give color.
So I've got cornstarch
and I've got flour.
And I'm gonna whisk them.
This is called tempering the eggs.
It's working the milk in in very small additions.
So that they gradually heat up
and they don't cook and scramble.
With starch bound custards
you want to bring them to a boil
'cause that's what activates the starch fully.
I think parm is like the ideal cheese for this.
So we're doing a little pinch of cayenne again,
not to make this spicy,
just to brighten the flavor a little bit.
This is gonna have a gluey consistency
the way it is right now.
Whereas if we lighten it with the whipped cream,
it should kind of net out
in a really pleasantly light, creamy,
more like melt in your mouth kind of way.
It gives you the flavors and the sensation of like Béchamel
but without being super cloying.
I think we're done with the Béchamel situation.
I think we're ready to put this thing together.
I'm going to be making six layers.
I'm going to be doing thin layer of Bolognese
on the bottom of the pan.
You want something on the bottom layer that's not pasta.
You don't really want it to be the pasta
because it's gonna wanna stick.
Next we're going to do a layer of pasta.
Then on top, we're gonna do our Béchamel.
We're just trying to make sure the pasta has some insurance
against drying out.
Then I'm going to do Bolognese pasta.
Béchamel, bolognese, pasta.
Until we reach just up to the top of the pan.
When I think of lasagna,
I think of those classic alternating layers.
And that's exactly what I'm going for.
Should I talk about how I chose the wrong pan.
In an ideal world
your five or six layers of pasta would come all the way up
to the top of the pan.
It will be totally fine.
It's just much less dramatic
because it looks like I just stopped
after I made half a pan of lasagna.
So the last thing I'm going to do
before we get this in the oven
is wrap it in foil.
I want to preserve all of the moisture.
Oh my God.
So that is going in.
It's at 325,
we're going to check it in about an hour
and take the foil off and finish baking it.
I'm ready to assemble my lasagna.
We're gonna do like a layer of pasta
then some zucchini.
So I'm gonna do two on each sheet.
And then next I'm gonna do this Ricotta.
I am using Mozzarella as well,
because that's going to add some of the gooey cheesiness
to the lasagna.
It's also going to add some stretch and pull.
So carefully roll away from you.
You don't have to make it too tight.
I like to place this fold kind of towards the outside
because that's gonna support it
and not let it open up on you.
For the skillet
I wanna make sure that there's a layer of tomato sauce
on the bottom
so that the pasta doesn't get bond.
The crispy, crunchy bond bits off the lasagna
are my favorite part.
And in my version,
everyone's gonna get a little bit of that.
I'm making sure that all of the pasta is covered in sauce
because I want enough moisture to make sure
that it's cooking all the way through.
She's my child.
And she's ready to go in the oven.
Oh my God.
I don't understand how you're supposed to get things
in and out of this oven.
Ooh, very nice.
I am going to crank up the temperature to 425.
And then once that reaches temp,
the lasagna is gonna go back in
uncovered until the Béchamel layer on top
is really brown and crisp.
How do people do this?
Uh, my God.
Assembly is frankly gonna be a bit tricky.
Part of it is I really want to try to get
some clean slices of the Terrine
that I'm then gonna crisp in a skillet
so that you almost get this, like,
double concentrated mushroom flavor.
We'll cooked it once on the way to becoming a Terrine.
And then we will be cooking slices of the Terrine again
to intensify their flavor and texture still further.
Okay, okay, okay.
All right, let's port it over here.
Wow, wow, wow, wow.
Okay, so this is done.
There we go.
Nice and layered.
All right, that'll be our piece.
Looks so good.
That was a save there.
I'm so glad I didn't drop that.
I think this looks so good.
I'm very happy with it.
There's also some like crusty,
charred tomato bits on the side, which I love.
And as this lasagna sits, you know,
the sauce is gonna thicken a little bit.
The cumin is really coming through.
Okay, so my modern version of this lasagna is ready.
I think it looks perfect.
It turned out really good.
I can't wait for Chris and Christina to taste this
and tell me what they think.
So I'm gonna do like three
pieces of Terrine, I think.
And in two layers.
This layer is only going to repeat one time.
So this is our mushroom Sabayon.
I keep coming back to this idea of wanting the lasagna
to kind of play with your expectations a little bit.
Like I want it to kind of read
as somewhere between sweet and savory.
I want it to look a little bit like a Napoleon.
I want it to stand high off the plates.
I need a lot of things to work here
in order to pull this off.
There it is.
Behold BA's Best lasagna by Chris Morocco.
Took all freaking day,
but, shall we dig in?
[Rachel] I mean the layers are perfect.
Such good definition,
such clean slice.
Kinda can't believe the amount of browning you got
across the top of the Béchamel.
This takes me back.
[Chris] To what 20, 16, 17. Yeah.
It's so cozy and comforting.
The flavors are just completely melded
in this beautiful way.
This feels extremely Swedish note to me.
I love that even though you use fresh pasta,
there's still enough bite.
I'm so happy with this.
I mean, obviously like I'm,
my heart is gonna leap when it sees this interpretation,
because like, that's exactly what I want from lasagna.
And that's why I made the recipe that way.
Feel like I just got an A.
Here it is.
My modern take on lasagna.
[Christina] It feels like you made
perfectly individual size pieces of lasagna.
You skip the part in traditional lasagna
where you're cutting through a big pan of something.
[Rachel] Yeah. M-hm.
Because each one is sort of its own
little layered universe.
I'm eating like the very inside
the way you should eat a cinnabon
but it's like demonic here.
The heat definitely shines through,
but it's not excessive.
this is like a totally vegetarian lasagna, correct?
You know, and I think like,
when you take like that meaty element out,
you have to bring something that has like a certain depth
and weight to it.
And like the heat is taking it there.
The flavor is really satisfying.
But I had never had spicy lasagna before.
The way that the zucchini and the spinach
offer that kind of clean flavor that cuts through the spice.
And then you have the creaminess of the Ricotta.
It just all works.
I would say like, maybe if there's one thing I achieved,
it was like, it is maybe experimental.
I wasn't trying to make something
that's just like weird for its own sake, making Sabayon.
Don't give yourself such a hard time.
I think it looks very appealing.
In fact, if you serve this to me at a restaurant,
I would say, It's a wonderful dessert course.
Thank you for the Mille Feuille.
Right, no, I know. [Rachel laughs]
So the intention was like,
you'd be able to push a knife or a fork through it.
[Rachel] Oh. Wow, so sound.
[Christina] Is that what you wanted?
That's what I wanted.
Like, you needed to be able to eat this.
Oh, you can see the layers so well.
[Rachel] That looks really good.
These mushrooms are really good by the way.
The cracker sort of held up,
I mean it softened.
I like that it was soft in the center
and you get some of the correspondent side.
I think crème patt is really good.
It's really good.
Whipped cream was very smart, I think too.
And I love the pattè.
I think it's never what I would expect to eat for dinner.
If you told me we were having lasagna for dinner.
But it's also something that I could never
have come up with in my dreams.
So I think that's,
I think that's pretty well worth commending.
Would you call this lasagna?
[Rachel and Chris laugh]
[Christina] But they're tasty.
Should we wave?
Did you see?
He liked didn't even know you were there.
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Andy Makes Neapolitan Chicken
Chris Makes BA's Best Lasagna
Carla Makes Roasted Pork
Molly Makes Macaroni and Cheese
Tiana Makes Sweet Potato Gnocchi