Meat lasagna is a traditional Italian dish consisting of lasagna pasta, minced beef and cheese sauce, baked in layers. The dish is hearty and is usually served as a main dish along with fries and coleslaw. This filling and wholesome meat dish of pasta is also hugely popular in America and other parts of Europe. Beef is usually the ingredient of choice for preparing a meat lasagna although the cuisine of central Italy has several recipes that call for other kinds of meat like pork, rabbit, and venison.
Tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, and ground beef are the ingredients used to prepare a classic Italian meat lasagna. Frozen or fresh spinach and a pinch of nutmeg are also customarily added to the baked dish in order to enhance its flavor and nutritional value. This lasagna dish is usually baked as a part of Christmas dinner in Italian homes across America.
Meat Lasagna Recipe Overview
Preparing a meat-filled lasagna is simple enough. The first step involves browning minced or ground beef and discarding the fat completely. Italian herbs and seasonings are added to the meat and cooked for a few minutes before adding tomato puree or roughly chopped tomatoes to it. The sauce is allowed to thicken while the lasagna sheets are boiled in water until they become al-dente. A cheese sauce is also prepared by combining several varieties of cheese preferably mozzarella and ricotta cheese.
The dish is assembled by placing at least three lasagna sheets on top of a spoonful of meat sauce and covered with half of the meat sauce followed by a layer of the cheese mixture. The layers are repeated until the ingredients are exhausted and the topmost layer is sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. The dish is then baked at moderate temperature for thirty minutes and allowed to cool before cutting it into squares and serving them.
Popular Meat Lasagna Recipe Variations
Some of the most popular meat lasagna dishes are:-
- Basic Meat Lasagna- A layered baked dish prepared with minced beef, a mixture of cheeses and sausage flavored spaghetti sauce. Oregano and basil are the herbs used to flavor this dish customarily.
- Meat Cheese Lasagna- This is an American version of the pasta dish, cooked with a can of tomato sauce, provolone or Romano cheese and ground beef. Chili flakes are also added to the meat sauce to make it spicier in taste.
- Lasagne Alla Bolognese- This is a Tuscan specialty consisting of three different types of meats namely beef, veal and pork which are used to prepare the Bolognese sauce.
- Rabbit Ragu Open Lasagna- An exotic lasagna dish consisting of rabbit ragu and cheese sauce baked together with green colored spinach lasagna sheets.
- Elk Lasagne- This is a healthy version of the traditional meat lasagna cooked with venison and cottage cheese along with tomato sauce.
The Rachel Ray show featured a variation of the meat lasagna made with stale bread instead of lasagna noodles.