Well, let me tell you about my dog and lasagna.
It all started this afternoon, after my weekly visit to the book store. We were in the park (that is, me and my partner, a 2 year old German shepherd) and, as I was reading “Jamie’s Italy”, I found a recipe that made my mouth water and exclaimed: “Hmmm! Lasagna alla cacciatora!”
Suddenly, she was all ears. She instantly jumped full of joy, barking :<< Say whaat?? Lasagna??? Ja, Herr Kapitän, bitte! LASAGNA!!!>>
At first, I thought she was in a playful state, but I noticed she was, in fact, very concentrated on the book I was holding, hitting it slowly with her nose.
I uttered again:“Lasagna?“ She jumped and barked again. I looked around, thinking somebody exchanged her with a circus dog. But no…it was her alright!!
„Ok, I said, let’s see!“. Checked my pocket, reached for my wallet, and headed for the supermarket nearby. I bought all the necessary ingredients.
As I started to prepare our meal, she sat next to me and kept biting my trousers very gently every time I was handling another ingredient, like saying: „Let me see!“
So, for lasagna you need:
For the tomato sauce :
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
A spring of fresh rosemary
3 x 400 g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes
For the white sauce (bechamel) :
1 litre/13/4 pints milk
a spring of fresh parsley
a pinch of nut meg
½ onion, peeled and slices
6 black peppercorns
80gbutter,plus extra for greasing
65g plain flour
150g freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
As I started to heat the oven, and handle the meat, she bumped me again with her nose.
„What? What’s wrong?“ She barked, staring at the meat. „Ah…got it. You wanna see if it’s prime quality meat, don’t you?“ I handed her a small piece of shredded meat. „Wooff!“ It was ok, prime quality, I imagined. I roasted the meat, then made the egg pasta dough.
I heated a pan and added a slash of oil. Slowly, fried the garlic until lightly coloured, then added the rosemary, bay leaves and tomatoes. After 45 minutes of cooking, when the tomatoes are nearly done, I putt he milk, parsley, nutmeg, onion and black peppercorns into another pan, and brought it gently to the boil. Melted the butter in yet another pan and added the flour. Mixed well, then strained the milk and added it a ladleful at a time, stirring it in until I had a smooth white sauce.
She was happy, and impatient, following every move I made.
Brought the white sauce to the boil and simmered for a couple of minutes, then took off the heat, added the Parmesan and seasoned. No need to say that the parmesan was very much appreciated, a small piece at a time. And barked at, so…good quality!!!Added the shredded meat to the tomato sauce, with a little hot water, and seasoned. Simmered for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Then removed the rosemary and bay., and handed them to my sotto cuoco. She looked at me with an acid face, almost like saying :“Kidding, right?“
Preheated the oven at 180°C/350°F and buttered a large baking dish. Brought a pot of salted water to the boil with a good glug of oil and rolled out the pasta into long strips. Blanched 2-3 strips at a time, then covered the bottom of the dish with pasta strips, letting them hang over the edges. Topped with some meat sauce, then some white sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan and so on, and so forth, repeating the layers. I kept back enough white sauce for a final layer, then folded the pasta from the edges and topped with the white sauce. Sprinkled everything with a lot of Parmesan, torn over the mozzarella…and she was barking again, almost jumping on the table. „Hold on, partner! Here you go!“
I scattered over the sage and drizzled the olive oil.And now we had to wait for around 45 minutes, until the lasagna was golden on top.
After everything was ready, filling our kitchen with a divine smell, she plunged into her bowl and, slowly, like a true gourmet, enjoyed every piece. All finished, she put her head on my knee, which (as I imagine) was a big „Danke schön“- then she reached for the kitchen corner couch. With a sigh, her head rested on Jamie Oliver’s book, and she kept looking me straight in the eyes. „Chief, tomorrow we will make more of this dude’s lasagna, won’t we? PLEASE!“
No doubt about it at this point, my dog’s a born CHEF!
Keep your eyes and your heart open – beauty is all around you!
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