Not too long ago, a friend and I were chatting about cookbooks, Italian cookbooks in particular, and she mentioned that her mom thinks a lot of the most revered aren’t all they’re cracked up to be as they have recipes for basics, like how to make a bechamel.
I agree that everyone should know how to make it, and thankfully, my friend’s mom would approve of cooking knowledge-but I only reached this place by the skin of my teeth. I had recently managed to get bechamel down pat thanks to my determination in mastering lasagna bolognese and I’d been on such a kick that I think I can make a bechamel with my eyes closed.
Funny…ten years ago, I would have scorned the idea of anything other than cheese in my lasagna as it was the be all end all for me. But oh my gosh..the layer of ragu and bechamel fillings between each silky lasagna sheet is simply divine. Plus, I love the size of it. Even if I’m sharing, I always have plenty left over that I can even freeze and for a schiscia.
Once again, I took the Bon Appetit route. I’ve heard a few tongues wagging about how Bon Appetit’s version isn’t “truly Italian”, but I don’t care. It’s doable and that’s what’s most important to me! And I adore how lasagna Bolognese recipes, in general, don’t call for dousing each slice in sauce before serving. I always pile on the Parmigiano-Reggiano before baking because I enjoy the dreamy textural contrast the crispy top layer adds to each bite, and sauce just might make it soggy.
In terms of mastering my casalinga skills, thanks to good old lasagna Bolognese I was in the clear this time, but I still have so much more to learn.
It’s also worth noting that this conversation is partly what prompted me to start cooking from Ginette Mathiot’s I Know How to Cook. It’s one of the six mother sauces of French cuisine and undoubtedly part of the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum. What else prompted me? I’ll save that for another time.