This recipe takes a lot of work, but the results are stupendous every time. My mother, Beverly Erbacher, learned this recipe from my Aunt Leona who came from Sicily. She found versions of it on her world travels when she visited Northern Italy as a Travel Agent. We had to substitute one of the cheeses that you just can’t get in the U.S., but we’ve made as close a match as possible.
You’re going to need a REALLY LARGE lasagna pan to hold this recipe. Mine is a 13″ x 18″ x 4″ pan, and it takes some hefty muscles to lift it when its loaded with this dish. (You can cut the recipe in half and use a normal-sized baking pan.)
- Olive Oil
- 1 large onion, chopped small (but not too small!)
- 1 cup of red wine
- 1 large bundle of fresh parsley, chopped (you’re going to want about 2 cups of chopped parsley total)
- 3 large cans of tomatoes, chopped
- 2 pounds of bulk ground sausage, cooked and drained
- 2 pounds of ground beef, cooked and drained
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3 pieces of stale bread
- 3 cups of Parmesan cheese
- 2 pounds of mozzarella cheese, grated
- 2 pounds of Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
- 3 large boxes of lasagna noodles
Put a huge pot of water on to boil. When it comes to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt and the lasagna noodles. But in the meantime:
In a large skillet cook the sausage and ground beef together and drain. Run the stale bread quickly under water and then squeeze the water out, leaving a ball of bread dough. Crumble the bread dough in thumbnail sized pieces into the meat mixture. Add one cup of the chopped parsley, 2 cups of Parmesan cheese, and the three beaten eggs to the meat mixture and set aside.
OPEN YOUR WINDOWS, TURN ON YOUR STOVE AIR VENTS, AND PRAY YOU DON’T SET OFF YOUR SMOKE ALARM FOR THIS NEXT PART.
This is my family’s favorite stage of this recipe, because it makes the whole house smell so good. In a large (Dutch Oven sized) pot, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Then turn the heat way up. Add the chopped onions to the hot oil… and BURN THEM! I mean BURN THEM BLACK! When they are completely BLACK, pour on a cup of red wine. (I put one of those spatter screens over the pot and pour through it. Watch out for the resulting steam.)
To the wine and blackened onions, add the chopped tomatoes and their juices, another cup of chopped parsley, and the meat mixture.
Shred the Mozzarella and Monterrey Jack Cheeses together in a large bowl.
When the noodles are done cooking (about 10 minutes), drain them and rinse in cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Layer sauce, noodles, cheese, noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce, until you run out of noodles or sauce. Be sure to end with a layer of noodles. Cover with a goodly layer of Parmesan cheese, and bake in a 350º oven for 35 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Serve with salad, garlic bread, and a nice Chianti. Even more wonderful the next day and the next. I usually freeze half the recipe and keep it tucked away for surprise hungry guests.