Pork Sausage Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

Lasagna is like any other pasta - you have infinite ways to do variations on it. Who says lasagna has to have the tomato sauce inside? Here I made a "white" version of lasagna and then served it atop some already-prepared marinara sauce. It's garnished with basil from my yard. The recipe below is for a full box of pasta, which is a large serving (for 6 hungry people).

For the lasagna:
1 pckg Lasagna pasta sheets (dried, not fresh)
2 eggs
1 lb shredded mozzarella or other white, mild cheese
8-10 large italian sausages (or other pork sausages that have casings)
1/2 c heavy cream
2 tbsp of mustard (optional)
Fresh sage, chopped (optional, can use dried sage or oregano)
1 onion, chopped fine

For the bechamel sauce:
3 c milk, preferably not skim
1/2 c flour
4 tbsp butter
Ground nutmeg
Ground parmesan

Make the lasagna pasta as directed on box, strain, run cool water on the pasta, and then separate out the pasta on a cutting board so it doesn't stick together. While the pasta is cooking, remove the filling from the casings of the sausage. You do this by cutting off the tip of the sausage, then squeezing all of it out into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs and add the shredded cheese and stir. If the cheese is really mild and flavorless (viva Tunisia!) add salt and pepper.

In a saucepan, add a little bit of oil (not much because the sausages will likely be greasy) and saute the onion until softened. Add the sausage filling and brown, breaking up any clumps with the back of the wooden spoon. When almost done, sprinkle in the sage. To make it an actual sauce, add some cream - you can also add mustard to the cream if you want to give it an extra kick. Taste for salt and pepper - if bland, you can also add a shot of Worcestershire sauce.

To assemble the lasagna: lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking pan (glass or metal, doesn't matter). Put a layer of pasta on the bottom, and top with a layer of pork mixture. To that, add another pasta layer, then a cheese-egg layer, and repeat as needed. If you're short on pasta, you can put the pork and cheese together on the same layer. Make sure your top layer is pasta.

To make the bechamel sauce: first pre-heat your oven to 425. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Then add the flour, all while stirring vigorously with a whisk. Here is the really really really important part: start adding milk right away!!! If you don't, it will clump. Keep adding a little milk and stirring vigorously - never stop stirring. As the sauce thickens, add more milk. Do this until you have enough sauce to cover the top of the lasagna. If the sauce doesn't thicken, do not add more flour - this ensures clumps. Just let it keep getting hotter and eventually it will reduce some. Do not let it boil. You can always make more batches if you need more. When it's done, you can add salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Cover the lasagna in the bechamel sauce, sprinkle the top with parmesan and stick in the oven for 15-20 minutes or less if the top is browning. Serve!

Troubleshooting: if your bechamel is lumpy, you can cheat by putting it through a strainer (no one will know).


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