Monday, October 4, 2010

Seafood Lasagna

This is the second part to our dinner party this past Saturday. I made a variation of this dish about 6 years ago and haven't done it since. It is a time consuming and detailed recipe but when you get it all right there may be no other better lasagna in the world. To add to the awesomeness of this recipe my friend Shawn caught some Florida lobsters while out on the boat earlier that day, and fresh is always best. Another big thanks to my buddy Josue for Sous cheffing this dish with me.

This recipe feeds 8 to 10 people and I made two trays (one small, one big). Total time is about 3 hours. Total cost: priceless (about $80)

Seafood Lasagna
1/4 cup pancetta, diced
2 oz EV olive oil
1/2 cup medium white onion, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup orange bell pepper, diced
6 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
1 lb of u25 peeled, deveined shrimp, cut into 5 equal piece each
1 lb of sea scallops, cut to into the same size as the shrimp (about 4 per scallop)
8 oz jumbo lump crab meat
8 oz fresh Florida lobster, chopped in 1/2 squares (same size as shrimp)
1 lb fresh spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1.5 cups of whole milk Ricotta cheese
1 pint of heavy cream (2 cups)
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup grated Parmesan chesse, grated
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
10 sheets of fresh semolina pasta dough, a little bigger then the lasagna pan.
Here is my Homemade Pasta Recipe (Thickness level of 3 for lasagna)

Get a large stock pot filled with water and about two tablespoons of salt started on high heat. This will be for the pasta which we will cook right at the end.

Start a large sauce pot on low heat (1 of 10). Add the pancetta to the pan and let it cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. This will render the fat out of the pancetta, you could substitute bacon, but pancetta is WAY better. Once the pancetta is browned remove it from the pan, dice it up and reserve it for later, but leave the fat. Add the olive oil and they onions, carrots, garlic, and bell pepper and let cook for 15 minutes or until it almost melted. Turn it up to medium low (3 of 10) and add the seafood, without the crab (its cooked). Stir often to make sure you cook the seafood through evenly, only about five minutes. Now add the crab meat and the chopped spinach. Mix it up and let that cook for 3 minutes. Add the seasonings, herbs, heavy cream, ricotta, butter and the reserved pancetta mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Now add most of the grated Parmesan and Pecorino and turn back down to simmer(reserve about 1/4 cup of cheese). Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Now add your fresh pasta sheets to the water two at a time and let them cook for about 5 minutes or until al dente, do not overcook them as it will lose an important texture factor and structural component of the lasagna. Remove them from the water and drain. This works well if you have a pasta insert or large strainer to pull the sheets out. Repeat until all the sheets are cooked.

In a large lasagna pan (I used a Pyrex 15"x10"x2" pan and a Pyrex 9"x9" square) add a large spoon full of the liquid from the seafood sauce to coat the bottom of the pans, this prevents the pasta from sticking to the bottom. Now add two pasta sheets making sure to overlap them in the center by about 1/2 and inch. Now trim the excess so the sheets fill the pan perfectly, but leaving no spot uncovered. Now scoop the seafood mixture on top of the pasta, spread it evenly (about 1/3 for the large and 1/6 for the small pan). Sprinkle with some of the grated cheese you had reserved. Top that with two more fresh pasta sheets, make sure to overlap the center and trim the outside to fit the pan. Add the second part of the mixture to each pan and sprinkle on more grated cheese (about 1/3 for the large and 1/6 for the small pan). Reserve about 1/2 a cup of just liquid from the seafood mix for the top. Finally add the top two sheets and spoon the reserved liquid evenly on top, sprinkle a bit more cheese on top. Place it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove and let it stand for at least ten minutes, this will allow it to firm up and not run all over when you serve it. Garnish, slice and serve. I also made some garlic bread to go along with it so that I could soak up all the seafood goodness.

We had a total of 8 people and this dish worked out perfectly. Everyone cleaned their plates and I had a whole small pan leftover for Sunday football. It was great the second day also. Between the soup and lasagna we had a little side salad that consisted of arugula, sliced pear, red onion, toasted pumpkin seeds and a white balsamic vinaigrette. Thanks everyone for eating and cleaning, I had a great time. This may have to become a regularly scheduled event.