This rich version of lasagna -- loaded with profound sauce bolognese and topped off with a palate-caressing white sauce -- is our hands-down favorite
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk, heated almost to boiling
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
18 sheets fresh or dried green lasagna noodles, each one about 2 inches by 10 inches, parboiled
1 1/2 recipe of sauce bolognese (9 cups), see related recipes on right-hand side
1. Make a roux by melting 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon flour at a time, whisking well after each addition. Cook roux gently for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Do not let color change. Add hot milk slowly, whisking constantly, and cook for about 25 minutes over low heat. Do not stop whisking or stirring. Cook until the sauce has consistency of very thick cream. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
2. Mix Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano in a small bowl.
3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Grease bottom and sides of a 9 inch by 11 inch by 1 1/2 inch pan well. Spread 1 cup of the sauce on bottom of pan.
4. Place 3 lasagna noodles on bottom of pan; they will overlap slightly. Spread about 1 3/4 cup of sauce bolognese evenly on noodles. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese mixture. Repeat this 4 times. Place last 3 noodles on top, spread remaining sauce over all, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. (The lasagna may be assembled up to this point 2 days in advance and stored in refrigerator, covered. Bring to room temperature before cooking.)
5. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake on top shelf of oven for about 20 minutes, until top is light golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.
The residents of Bologna claim lasagne al forno as their own, and an excellent fourteenth-century recipe from the University of Bologna gives their claim good authority. But they have more to brag about than historical precedence; their rich version of lasagna -- loaded with profound sauce bolognese and topped off with a palate-caressing white sauce -- is our hands-down favorite in the lasagna league. Serves 10 to 12