In Italian, lasagna refers to one sheet of pasta and its plural form, lasagne, refers to the dish with several layers. This distinction is rarely observed in English. That’s why often in the United States we’ll see Lasagna spelled in the singular form. Over time, my husband and I have specialized in our cooking. When there is lasagne on the menu the family knows it’s coming from mama. When we traveled to Italy we would love the lasagne that they served there. It is different to the American lasagne that is made with ricotta cheese. In fact lasagne Bolognese (from the city of Bologna) does not have any ricotta in it at all. I prefer to make lasagne over 2 days. On the first day I make the Bolognese meat ragu. This meat sauce cooks for about 3 hours with primary ingredients of ground beef and pork, carrot, celery, onion, milk, wine, and a small amount of tomato paste. I let the meat sauce cool and refrigerate until the next day. On the second day I make a béchamel sauce which is a butter, flour, and milk sauce with a small amount of parmesan and a hint of nutmeg. I use either fresh or dried lasagne pasta sheets. I then prepare for the lasagne assembly. In a buttered lasagne pan I start with pasta sheets, followed by 1/3 of the meat sauce, and parmesan cheese. This is followed by another layer of pasta sheets, 1/3 of the béchamel, and parmesan cheese. You should end up with six alternating layers: three of meat and three of béchamel, with béchamel as your last layer. This classic Bolognese Lasagne al Forno is mouth-watering.
On the 27th of January of 2015 we were threatened with a huge blizzard which turned out to be all of 1 inch of snow. Hey, I was not complaining.
That day we had ourselves a party of homemade chicken fingers and sweet potato fries. Sure, homemade chicken fingers take longer to prepare but nothing beats knowing what is in your chicken fingers. I like to brine the chicken for several hours before assembling the strips. I use a simple brine of brown sugar and Kosher salt. There are many ways to bread the chicken. You can use panko or regular breadcrumbs. Lately I have been making a very flavorful coconut panko breaded version. We have cooked chicken fingers 2 ways, deep-fried or baked. Recently it seems that we mostly bake the strips and the family is very happy with the outcome. As for the sweet potato fries, we have made two kinds, store-bought and from scratch. If making from scratch we cut up the sweet potato, cover it in corn starch, and then deep-fry it. We serve the chicken fingers with all sorts of fun dipping sauces: bbq, sriracha mayonnaise, plain yogurt with chili, garlic, and cilantro, honey mustard and ketchup.
This brings us to tonight. I had previously made a delicious Cuban slow-cooked pork shoulder which is then shredded. I had frozen the leftovers. Tonight we are repurposing this delicious pork and using it in soft tacos. Our family members like different types of shells which is why we usually have both corn and whole wheat shells on hand. We typically use cheddar cheese but we discovered that smoked gouda adds an interesting flavor profile. For toppings I’ll chop green onion and cilantro, and offer store bought salsas and sour cream. The Cuban pork is so juicy that I generally don’t add salsas to my soft taco.
With every dinner we always have green salads with my homemade salad dressing. If we have a vegetable(s) with the meal I generally include that on the blackboard.
Last night my husband and I did some brainstorming on what meals to have this weekend. Stay tuned!