Sunday, February 22, 2009

How To Make Lasagna

Recently, I decided it would be more cost-effective for me to make my own lasagna instead of driving to Kokomo's Olive Garden every time I wanted some. Here are the steps you should take if you wish to duplicate my results.

1. Go to the grocery store on behalf of your mother, purchase the items she desires, then field calls from other family members who want other things. Circle the Super Walmart multiple times.

2. Buy flat-leafed Italian parsley, ricotta cheese (the large tub), Parmesan cheese (a piece you have to shred yourself--it melts), a ball of fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes (again, a large can), mild Italian sausage, garlic, and the kind of lasagna noodles you don't need to pre-cook.

3. Answer your phone, and meet your father, who has decided to visit you during your grocery shopping. As you are using a basket and not a cart, you are now straining under the weight of many groceries. Hand the basket to your father, because he is a guy and because he owes you for all the things you do for him (like taking his apple cores off the bookshelves and throwing them away instead of attracting household vermin with them, as he would do otherwise). Wander around the store until your frozen foods become soggy, then force him to carry the bags out to the car and load them into the trunk.

4. Drive your father to his car (he has been fasting for a blood test). Then drop him off and drive yourself home.

5. Cook the sausage in a skillet. Drain it, set aside.

6. Shred the mozzarella. Place a dampened coffee filter into a small strainer over a bowl. Then place the cheese in the filter and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap. Then, weight the cheese by placing a bowl on top of the cheese. Fill the bowl with coins. Leave the assembly for about an hour, until you have liquid accumulation in the bowl. This helps the cheese melt nicely without pooling liquid.

7. Thank God you did not need olive oil, as you forgot to buy it. Use about 2T of EVOO in a skillet to coat the pan as it heats. Then, add in about 3 cloves of garlic. When the garlic has cooked a little and is no longer raw-looking, pour in the can of crushed tomatoes.

8. Thank God again that you have oregano around; add this to the tomato mixture, then put in some pepper too. If the mixture is too tart, add in some sugar a little at a time until it is less violent. Allow the sauce to cook for a few minutes, maybe ten, but not thicken. You will need the extra moisture to let the noodles cook later.

9. Mince the parsley.

10. Shred tons of Parmesan.

11. Empty the tub of ricotta into a large bowl. Put in a cup or so of Parmesan and mix it together. Then add in some parsley, enough that it looks like there is parsley in there, but not too much. You will know when you have added too much. But then it will be too late.

12. Thank God you still have one egg. Try to crack the egg, fail, try again, and thank God you catch the yolk as it falls. Hold the inside of the egg in one hand as you drop the shell into the sink. Realize you have no exit strategy, attempt to separate the white from the yolk by moving the egg from hand to hand. Then, when you have dropped the white into the sink and broken the yolk in your hand, drop the yolk into a bowl and whisk it together. Add it to the cheese and mix it well.

13. Realize you don't have a pan to cook your lasagna in. Find a large, roundish pottery pan that will potentially work.

14. Place some sauce in the bottom of your pan.

15. Layer some noodles, two side by side, then notice you have no way to keep the noodles and sauce together as you add them in. Hope this will not end up a tragedy.

16. Layer cheese, noodles, sauce and meat, noodles and so forth until you have run out of vertical space, then top with mozzarella. Use remaining noodles to wedge the stacked lasagna in place.

17. Put your oven on 350 degrees F, then pop the lasagna in, since you cannot preheat the oven. Put the timer on for forty minutes instead of thirty to make up for this. Because you don't have any foil, grab your purse and keys.

18. Buy foil, and the requested candy bars your family wants.

19. Arrive at home, find that there is a peculiar smell coming from your oven.

20. Discover you have accidentally placed the lasagna in the oven and turned on the broiler. Now your wedge-noodles and cheese have been...browned. Remove the lasagna and place on top of oven. Then rub some olive oil on foil to cover the lasagna since it no longer needs to brown. At the last minute add in some extra liquid out of fear that you have dehydrated the lasagna beyond repair.

21. Let the lasagna cook until the timer runs out. Notice it is too soupy. Allow it to cook longer. Then notice it is still too soupy. Then let it cook longer. After an additional half hour, remove it from oven.

22. Place it on top of the stove, allow it to rest for an additional half hour. Now you are very hungry and also concerned you have destroyed hours of work. Decide you turned on the broiler because it gets turned on by cranking the dial in the same direction you do if you are setting the temperature. Thank God again that you are only somewhat, not completely, stupid.

23. Systematically consume your entire pan of lasagna yourself, over several days.

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