Youse make it likes this.
Youse thought youse was going
to get the receipe for Uncle Eddy's Lasagna--which has been passed down for generations--just by youse being pazzo enough to scroll all the way down this page? Well, youse must be Italian, or maybe's youse got a St Christopher‘s around's
youse neck, because today's youse lucky day It'll be, likes, youse know's—our little secret.
This is the long version. Youse need lots of patience
and lots of time on your hands like maybe youse in prison or something. There are short cuts--prepared marinara, pre-made lasagna sheets--but if it's a major Catholic holiday or one of the Saints birthdays (there’s a bunch of ‘em)
youse better make it from scratch or Uncle Eddy will make you eat applesauce the rest of your life.
The dish starts with making Uncle Eddy’s
Marinara. Make this right or you'll be sleepin' with the fishes. Please keep in mind Uncle Eddy never measured anything. You won’t either after a time or two.
OK--here's we go.
UNCLE EDDY'S MARINARA
12 ripe Italian Roma tomatoes
3 28 oz. cans tomato puree. Uncle Eddy only used Progresso, but there are other brands, too-I guess
1 8 oz. can tomato paste
2 yellow onions chopped
8 crushed garlic cloves. I use a garlic press. Uncle Eddy used whatever was heavy. 8 cloves are for non-Italians. For Italians, it’s really a matter of how many cloves youse gots
1 cup Dago Red wine. I use Madera now, and limit it to a cup or so. Uncle Eddy’s recipe had no discernible limit.
Olive Oil. This can’t really be measured. When in doubt, use more. Capiche?
8 Bay leaves
4 oz. dried whole Oregano
4 oz. dried Basil
2 tablespoons dried Fennel
1 tablespoon ground Sage
1 tablespoon dried Rosemary
1 tablespoon dried Marjoram
1 tablespoon dried Thyme.
1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
3 tablespoons sugar. Uncle Eddy used the little packets he borrowed from Dennys. . .
In an 8 quart heavy pot (Uncle Eddy’s was dented), cover the bottom with olive oil; add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, and sauté over medium heat—not too high. Sauté
until onions and garlic start to brown. Do not use a separate sauté pan. Uncle Eddy’s Marinara is a one pot adventure—start to finish.
Crush the tomatoes
with your hands over the pot. Do not remove anything—seeds, stems, skins, or blemishes. Uncle Eddy left bugs in, too. This is optional.
Add the tomato puree, the
tomato paste, and the oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, sage, and fennel. Sage and Fennel are the secret weapons in Uncle Eddy’s Marinara and Lasagna.
(simmer is too high) for a minimum of a few hours; a few days is better. Add the wine and sugar along the way. They balance each other, so you have to use taste as your guide. Uncle Eddy’s sauce is thick and just a little bit sweet, but we’ll
be adding lemon juice to get the sweetness just right.
UNCLE EDDY’S DUCK AND SAUSAGE LASAGNA FILLING
There’s nothing like it, so let’s get started.
1 small roasting duck--Uncle Eddy said he got these from an egg ranch in Chino that had ducks, too. I get mine at Stater Bros--ask the butcher.
6 Sweet Sicilian Sausage links or bulk
1 pot Uncle Eddy’s Marinara
6 sprigs fresh Sage
6 sprigs fresh Basil
2 tablespoons ground Nutmeg
1 tablespoon dried Red Chili Flakes
1 lemon. I use Meyer lemons. Uncle Eddy had a tree in the backyard
Uncle Eddy used all sorts of game in his lasagna. You can try quail, goose, game hens--whatevers youse like or is on sale. No road kill. For fowl like duck, split the duck in half
and grill it--outdoors is best and youse won't catch hell from the Aunts for makin a mess in the kitchen. Stuff half cloves of garlic into knife slits. Leave the skin on and placed the halves breast-side-down on a hot grill for about 15 minutes.
Then youse cook for awhile. Uncle Eddy removed about half the charcoal coals from his backyard red barbeque so it would, like, you knows--get smokey.
Uncle Eddy always
knew when it was cooked just right. Youse will, too
Remove the duck and place it on a platter.
Now, take one large, heavy fry pan (Uncle Eddy’s was dented) and cover the bottom with olive oil. Add the Sicilian Sausages and brown over medium heat. Uncle Eddy bought his sausages from the Italian market next to the Bocce Ball
Courts where my Grandfather was a regular until he died at eighty six. Uncle Eddy’s Sicilian sausages are a mixture of pork, veal, basil, garlic, and red wine. I get mine now at Huntingtons Meat and Sausage at the original Farmer’s
Market in Los Angeles.
Once browned, take a wooden spoon and break apart the sausages into pieces (not too small). Carve the duck into pieces, too, and add to
the sausage. Use all of the duck. Uncle Eddy used the giblets and neck. I don’t, but youse can.
Continue to cook the duck and sausage mixture over low heat. Do not
drain--the sausage dripping and seasonings will flavor the dish. Hey, how often are you going to make this anyway? Uncle Eddy had a triple bypass. Youse will, too.
Sprinkle fresh basil leaves torn into pieces over the top and turn off the heat. Leave the mix in the fry pan—don’t put it on a plate; or a bowl, God
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
is the art form, and there are several different approaches. I am showing the “open face” version, but you can make a more traditional lasagna by adding a final layer of noodles over the top and covering it with sauce and mozzarella—Italian
breadcrumbs optional. I like the open face version because it’s lighter and allows the diner to see the filling and layers. Uncle Eddy always made it open face.
The Lasagna Noodles
Uncle Eddy rolled his own. He made the dough, kept it in a bowl overnight, and then rolled it
into sheets using a rolling pin or Chianti bottle. Cut the noodles into 4 x 6 inch rectangles. Uncle Eddy didn’t crimp the edges—neither should you.
dried lasagna noodles Even Uncle Eddy’s third wife who was Swedish knew better.
Put your cut noodles on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 250 degrees.
I know—why did we go to all that trouble to make fresh pasta noodles if we’re going to dry them out in the oven. We’re not—we’re leaving them a little al dente so we can have our noodles stand up to the next steps.
Layering is where DaVinci
meets the Mona Lisa. You’ll need an artistic eye, a trained hand, and a glass or two of the Dago Red that you didn’t use for the Marinara.. The more Dago Red youse drink the more perfect your Lasagna will look-- even if it's not. Here we
In a ceramic or porcelain lasagna pan (Uncle Eddy viewed metal pans the way Joan Crawford felt about wire hangers), spread a thin coating of olive oil
and then an inch or so of Uncle Eddy’s Marinara. Next the noodles—do not overlap. Uncle Eddy’s open face lasagna is more like giant raviolis that are served individually rather than a casserole that’s cut into squares.
Next comes the fresh ricotta. Don’t buy it in a plastic tub (wire hangers), but in blocks from an Italian or Mediterranean market. Lay down a 3 inch square or so on
each 4x6 noodle sheet—about a half inch thick.
Mound the duck and sausage mixture—about a handful (use your own hands unless youse Quasimota or Andre
The Giant or something's) over each ricotta slice.
Cut ½ inch slice of the fresh mozzarella (you can use buffalo mozzarel but Uncle Eddy never
saw a buffalo except on a nickel)—and cross the pieces over the duck and sausage. Sprinkle a little ground nutmeg over each mound and a few generous squeezes of lemon.
place one or two wooden spoonful’s of Uncle Eddy’s Marinara over each mound (no touching), and put fresh sprigs of sage and oregano on each. If you want more fresh herbs, add marjoram--tarragon if you're an adventurer.
Now, build another layer as above starting with a layer of noodle. Top with shaved parmesan—a pretty good amount. If Uncle Eddy ever heard of Pecorino Romano, he never mentioned
Into the Oven
350 degrees for
45 minutes or until the lasagna is starting to turn golden. At this point, every pot, pans, and utensil in the kitchen should have been used. Uncle Eddy didn’t believe in clean as you go. The Aunts cleaned up the kitchen after dinner while
the Uncles set up the poker tables.
Place one section on each plate. Ladle on a couple of spoonful’s of marinara. Not too much--but not too little. You want to see the lasagna, not a plate of sauce. Garnish the plate with fresh thyme, and serve with a heated bowl
of extra marinara and more shaved Parmesan.
Uncle Eddy’s lasagna is now ready for your guest to discover—hey’s, likes Christopher Columbo’s
discovering The New World. Capiche? Warm crisped focaccia or olive bread is the only side dish you need (except for more Dago Red), but you can add a salad either before or after. Salad often comes after the entrée in Italian families
Everyone always applauded
Uncle Eddy at the end of the meal—you will too; it’s part of the tradition.