There are three important things to remember when making lasagna to make sure that it can be sliced easily and served without the layers falling apart and looking like an incomprehensible mess on the plate. First, a thick meat sauce. Second, enough cheese to bind the layers. Third, the baked lasagna must be allowed to rest before cutting and serving. Other than that, anything goes. Parmesan cheese is traditional but my girls aren’t crazy about the way Parmesan cheese smells so I use either sharp cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack, or a combination of two or more.
Lasagna has got to be Speedy’s favorite pasta dish in the whole world. Not the girls though (Alex is the spaghetti girl while Sam is the macaroni girl) but, sometimes, Speedy’s preference has to take precedence. So, we had lasagna over the weekend.
Add the minced (or ground) beef. Cook, stirring, until the beef changes color. If your meat is lean enough, it’ll soak up whatever fat the bacon has rendered. Add the chopped onion. Stir. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the onion bits soften, about five to seven minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes with the juices (or your homemade tomato sauce). Season with salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar to offset the sour notes of the tomatoes. Stir. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, to reduce the sauce. Reduction is the key to a rich and flavorful sauce.
After about 20 minutes, the sauce should have reduced considerably and the mixture should be thick but not dry. This is the consistency you want to make sure that your baked lasagna turns out moist but not soupy. Adjust the seasonings by adding more salt, pepper, sugar, or all of them. This is your last chance to get the right balance so taste and taste again. You can’t adjust the seasonings anymore during assembly. Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water. Add a tablespoonful of oil so that the noodles don’t stick to one another. When done, drain, then douse with very cold water.