Mamma Mel’s Best Lasagna

Carmella, known as Mama Mel, worked at my family’s car dealership. She would serve this lasagna dish to the enjoyment of friends and family for years. It’s a time consuming dish, but well worth the effort. If you omit the meat, this recipe is just as delicious and quicker to prepare. It’s rated a Triple-T because it does take some tools, technique and time to make this TASTOSTERONE recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • Two 24-ounce cans of tomato puree
  • One 24-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • One 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and mashed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds sweet sausage, casing removed and shaped into 1-inch patties
  • 1-1/2 pounds hot sausage, casing removed and shaped  into 1-inch patties
  • 1-1/2 pounds mixture of ground pork and beef, shaped into 1-inch patties
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 pound package of curly lasagna noodles
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat and sauté garlic for 2 minutes to flavor the oil. Discard garlic after cooking.
  2. Add all cans of tomatoes to pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer.
  3. In a pan, sauté the sausage over medium heat until brown for about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Add the cooked sausage to the pot with tomatoes then cook uncovered over low heat until the sauce simmers for 30 – 40 minutes. Small bubbles will form.
  5. Add water and Marsala wine to the pot of cooked sausage and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer for an additional hour.
  6. Place the ground pork and beef in a bowl. Mix eggs, 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper to the meat mixture. Combine ingredients well then shape into large meatballs.
  7. In the pan used to cook the sausage, over medium heat add the meatballs and brown. Add the meatballs to the sauce that has been cooking and simmer uncovered for an additional hour.
  8. Add meatballs and simmer covered for an additional hour.
  9. In a large pot, filled halfway with water add about a teaspon of salt. Bring water to a boil.
  10. Add curly lasagna noodles to the large pot. Boiling water for 4 minutes, then drain.
  11. Remove the sausage and meatballs from the sauce with a large slotted spoon. Let cool. Mash the meats together in a bowl.
  12. Coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with sauce then layer with cooked pasta, then meat, then sauce, then ricotta, and then mozzarella. Repeat. The top layer should be pasta, sauce, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  13. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven set to 350ºF.  Bake 40 – 60 minutes or until sauce is bubbling, uncover for the last 5 minutes to brown the top layer of lasagna.
  14. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes before serving.
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