Lasagna with Elk and Goat Cheese Ricotta

I have been working on this Italian classic for nearly a decade, each time making it better and better with new little twist and turns that takes me this.  I am honored to say it was collaborate effort of not only people like Ken Silva, who gave me an ancient Italian meat sauce from a long time friend of his, but the feedback I got from the hundreds of people that tried my lasagna over the years.  Look at me, it is like I am receiving an Academy Award or something.  This one is for my Grandma Davis, who was a fantastic cook and could make anything from her freezer taste good in a matter of minutes.  I loved her cooking.

This recipe takes some time, but is well worth it and yields about 10 people.  You will need about a 4 inch deep casserole dish, or two regular ones.

http://www.thehuntingchef.com/2013/02/the-silver-fox-italian-red-sauce/  here is the link to the sauce on the blog.  This sauce is great on everything from lasagna to spaghetti.  One of my all time favorites.

Silver Fox Red Meat Sauce:

  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 5 Italian Sausage (mild)
  • 1 lb. of Elk hamburger (you can use beef, or bison)
  • 1 can (28 oz) of can plum tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5 0z) of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomatoe paste
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 of button mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 cup of basil
  • 1 Tbs of Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Food Processor
Lets get this party started with the Italian sausage, chives, and garlic.
Lets get this party started with the Italian sausage, chives, and garlic.

Get a large pot out, turn to medium heat.  Remove sausage from skin links, and brown in the post.  Once done, remove and set aside on a plate.  Keep the drippings in the pot for flavor.  Add a little olive oil, then add green onions and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes over medium heat, add mushrooms and cook for an additional four minutes until mushrooms are translucent.  Remove the mushroom sauté and put into a bowl for later.

The mushrooms are added into the dish.
The mushrooms are added into the dish.

Add the elk burger into the same pot and cook until burger is done about 8-10 minutes, remove and drain and wipe pot out.  You can add the mushroom sauté back into the same pot at this time.  The next step you will need a food processor.  This important for consistency, so the lasagna is not lumpy between noodle sheets. Process the sausage so it is smooth, then return to pot.  Do the same for the elk burger.

Process until you get a smooth texture.  About 20 seconds.
Process until you get a smooth texture. About 20 seconds.

Now that the both meats are the processed and back into the pot.  Do not put food processor away you will need it for the next step.  Add the can of plum tomatoes to the processor and pulse for 10-12 seconds until smooth and season with salt and pepper and then add that to the pot.

Please use fresh basil.
Please use fresh basil.

Then take the 3 cans of stewed tomatoes, the paste, and the basil into the processor, along with sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  Pulse until blended well and smooth consistency, then add to the pot.

Cook on low heat for an hour
Cook on low heat for an hour

It will appear that there is a lot of sauce.  I personally use every ounce of it for my Lasagna, and that is probably why it weighs 12 pounds when finished.  Later, you can decide how much you want to use and freeze the rest if you are inclined to do so.

Goat cheese ricotta mixture:

  • 2 Ricotta 15 oz. containers
  • 1 cup of Italian style Mascarpone cheese, Vermont Creamery.
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of good goat cheese.  I used local Fraga Farm.
  • 1 TBS of dry Italian seasoning
  • 1 farm egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 fresh mozzarella balls for the top of lasagna
The secret ingredient.  Goat Cheese!
The secret ingredient. Goat Cheese!

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, make sure to blend very well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set in fridge while you make the pasta.

You right now are thinking…”I got to make pasta???”  You really do not have too, you can purchase Lasagna sheets from the store.  However, there is nothing as good as fresh made pasta.  You can also go to Whole Foods and purchase their pre-made pasta sheets which is a step up from the dried ones.  You will need a pasta maker though.

Fresh Pasta Sheets:

  • 6 egg yolks (farm raised eggs are the best)
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus a cup on stand bye for adding if you need or dusting your work table while folding.

In a blender, blend all ingredients, except the flour.  Do this in a food processor for 12 seconds pulsing until combined.

Farm eggs are the best for fresh pasta.
Farm eggs are the best for fresh pasta.

Pour this mixture into a mixer with a dough hook attachment and add flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix for 5-8 minutes, and scrape the dough down off the sides of the bowl every so often.  you want the dough to be pretty tight and not all that sticky.  Add a little flour if it is sticky and wet.  Tightly wrap the dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.  Lightly dust your working table and roll the dough out to the width that will fit whatever width of pasta maker you are using.  I am using my grandmothers old Kitchenaid with a pasta maker attachment that works very nicely.

Rolling the pasta thru Old Faithful.
Rolling the pasta thru Old Faithful.

I run my first thru the roller, then do it again, cut my sheet in half, then adjust the roller to a thinner adjustment fro #4 to #3, and roll it again.  Fold the pasta with your other hand as it comes out of the pasta roller.  Set aside.

Take the cooking dish, spray it with Pam.  Then take a little of your sauce, try to scoop the top layer of the red sauce that contains only juice if you can and put it on the bottom of the dish evenly and layer the first pasta sheet.  You may have to cut to size smaller sheets to make it fit and even.

Layer your sheet on top of the sauce.
Layer your sheet on top of the sauce.

Once you have the pasta layered, then scoop the cheese mixture on to the top of the pasta sheets.

scoop cheese mixture on to the pasta sheets
scoop cheese mixture on to the pasta sheets.

Take a spatula and evenly press spread the cheese mixture so it is a nice even layer. Then generously layer sauce on top. Repeat this process as many times as you can.

Layer the sauce over the cheese.
Layer the sauce over the cheese.

Once you get to the top of your dish, cut the mozzarella balls into 1/4 inch thick slabs and layer over the top of Lasagna, then take a little parmesan cheese and dust the top.

This is starting to shape up.
This is starting to shape up.

Place in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees and cook for 60 minutes.  Make sure to pay attention to the lasagna to assure that it does not get burned.  Here is a little Italian secret.  Always pre-cook your lasagna, I usually do this a day ahead.  Then Saran wrap the top and put into fridge.  This is called the “Set up” Process.  You can easily bring it back to temperature the next day in the whole casserole dish at 350 for 30 minutes, make sure to cover it, use aluminum foil if you have too.

It is so hard to put this into the fridge without digging a fork into.
It is so hard to put this into the fridge without digging a fork into.

After reheating the dish, plate individually and watch the people you are serving acting like they are all Tony Soprano.  Forgetabout it!!!!

Lasagna with elk and goat cheese served.
Lasagna with elk and goat cheese served.

I know it is a long process for perfection, but this is by far the best Lasagna dishes I have ever made.  This would be my family secret and my legacy I am not only sharing with all of you, but with my family so they know how to make it.  They probably won’t, but at least they can take it to a chef or one of my daughters will pass this one on down the family line.

Buon cibo e buoni amici e la famiglia

The Hunting Chef

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