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George’s Toss-and-Tumble Cheater’s Lasagne

 

Chef George Germon and his wife Johanne Killeen have been cooking together for three decades and recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of their first restaurant, Al Forno, in Providence, RI.

During that time, the two have seen and cooked for plenty of Super Bowls. One of their favorite dishes to make come Super Sunday is “George’s Toss and Tumble Cheaters,” which was featured the book "On Top of Spaghetti...Macaroni, Linguine, Penne, and Pasta of Every Kind, published in 2006 by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins publishers.

“The recipe is what George and I jokingly call ‘boy food’ as it is very easy to prepare and shortcuts the whole layering process,” said Johanne. “It can also be assembled before the game then baked and served when appropriate. Chilled white wine and a good ol' red wine would take the place of beer in our house. A green salad would be assembled and waiting in the fridge. Dessert would be my new brownies.”

George’s Toss-and-Tumble Cheater’s Lasagne:

2 TB   unsalted butter
1 batch   (about 5 cups) Spicy Sausage Red Sauce (recipe to follow)
1 batch  George’s fresh pasta (recipe to follow), rolled and cut into 8-inch-long lasagne sheets
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and cut into ½-inch dice
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup   (8 ounces) ricotta (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Smear some of the butter on the bottom and sides of a 10 x 14-inch baking pan.  Cover the bottom of the pan with 1 cup sauce.  Set aside.  Put 2 cups of sauce in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
3. Generously salt the pasta water and cook half the lasagna noodles in batches.  Drain and transfer the pasta to the mixing bowl with the sauce.  Toss gently but thoroughly to ensure the sauce covers all surfaces of the noodles to prevent them from sticking together.  Add half the mozzarella and half the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Toss together without making a homogeneous mix.  Gently fold in the ricotta if you like—also being careful to leave the mixture patchy.  Tumble the whole thing onto the baking pan with out smoothing out the surface.
4. Repeat the process with the remaining sauce, the other half of the pasta, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and optional ricotta.  Toss and tumble into the baking pan, purposely leaving high and low spots.  Dot with the remaining but and bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbling hot with portions of the top nicely browned.  Cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

Spicy Sausage Red Sauce:

8 ounces  sausage meat or 2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 cup  finely chopped onions
1  plump garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
Pinch   cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup  extra virgin olive oil
4 cups  tomato juice, preferably organic
1 cup  freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Combine sausage meat, onions, garlic and fennel seeds in a bowl with 1 ½ cups cold water.  Break up the meat with your fingers or two forks, combining it with the other ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.
2. Transfer the sausage mixture to a large heavy saucepan with a lid—an enamel-coated cast-iron pot is ideal.  Stir in the cayenne (if you would like it more spicy) and the salt, and pour over the olive oil.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, over moderate heat until all the water has cooked away and only the oil remains to moisten the ingredients.
3. Add the tomato juice, cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes with the lid slightly ajar.
4. Turn the heat off and sprinkle over the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss.  The cheese will thicken the sauce.

 


 

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