Beef and Mushroom Besciamella Lasagna

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I once ate one of the most memorable white lasagnas I had ever eaten at an acquaintance’s house. This recipe is my attempt at recreating that dish. If you’re looking for a lasagna recipe that’s different than your usual lasagna with Bolognese sauce, this one is made using only besciamella sauce (bechamel or white sauce). Mushrooms, especially dried porcini, give this lasagna an earthy,
rich flavor.

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:
For the Lasagna
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about ½ cup)
7 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 cups finely diced onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces sliced brown or white mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
16 ounces dried lasagna noodles
1 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or fontina cheese (optional)


For the Besciamella Sauce:
6 1/2 cups milk at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch or freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:
Place the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit until cool enough to handle. Drain the mushrooms and lightly squeeze out excess water. Give them a rough chop and set aside.

Make the Beef and Mushroom Filling: Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the onion and sage. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Raise heat to high, add the ground beef and porcini mushrooms. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until beef is browned and cooked through. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Discard any liquid in the pan and briefly wipe with a paper towel and return to heat. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil.

Add the chopped mushrooms, and cook stirring constantly until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to bowl with beef mixture. Allow mixture to cool slightly. Stir in the parsley.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the lasagna noodles according
package directions.

Make the Besciamella: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the flour. Cook whisking constantly for 2 minutes, until flour is lightly colored. Add the milk and salt.

Raise heat to medium and continue whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue whisking for 2 additional minutes, until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Use immediately.

Assemble the Lasagna: Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Add a thin layer of sauce to coat the bottom.

Arrange a single layer of noodles on top, cutting noodles to fit where necessary. I like to alternate the direction of each layer of noodles. Spoon 1/3 of the beef mixture evenly on top.

Spoon 1/4 of the sauce on top of the beef mixture. Sprinkle 1/4 of the parmesan on top.

Repeat this process with two additional layers of noodles, beef mixture, sauce, and parmesan. Arrange the final layer of noodles and top with remaining sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella. Dot the top with remaining butter.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, until bubbly and heated through.

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