Austere, unsaucy, devoted singularly to the flavors of one ingredient- mushrooms
1 1/2 firmly packed cups dried porcini
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cups very thinly sliced cultivated mushrooms (about 1 pound)
6 cups very thinly sliced wild mushrooms (about 1 1/4 pounds)
6 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely minced (plus extra leaves for garnish)
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg
9 sheets lasagna, each one about 10 inches by 2 inches, parboiled (see pages 160 and 161)
1 pound smoked mozzarella, shredded
3/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano plus extra for serving
1. Place the dried porcini in a bowl, and cover with about 2 cups of hot water. Soak for 30 minutes.
2. Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a very large sauté pan over moderately high heat. When the butter has melted and is just starting to brown slightly, add the sliced cultivated mushrooms. Make sure the pan is not crowded (if it is, do this in two batches). Sauté the mushrooms over high heat for 2 minutes, or until they begin to brown slightly. Remove and reserve.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan over moderately high heat. When the butter has melted and is just starting to brown slightly, add the sliced wild mushrooms. Make sure the pan is not crowded (if it is, do this in two batches). Also add the shallots, the garlic, and the minced sage. Sauté the mushrooms over high heat for 2 minutes, or until they begin to brown slightly. Return the sautéed cultivated mushrooms to the pan, and mix together well. Drain the porcini, and add to the pan, mixing well. Add the cream, and cook over high heat until the cream thickens slightly (about 30 seconds). Remove mixture from heat. Season with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg.
4. Butter a lasagna pan that is roughly 9 inches by 11 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Place 3 parboiled lasagna strips on the bottom of the pan (they may overlap slightly). Cover with half of the mushroom mixture, half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a quarter of the smoked mozzarella. Make sure everything is spread out evenly. Top with 3 more lasagna strips. Cover with the remaining half of the mushroom mixture, the remaining half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the second quarter of the smoked mozzarella (reserving half of the original amount). Make sure everything is spread out evenly. Top with the last 3 lasagna strips. Place whole leaves of sage over the lasagna in a decorative pattern. Top with the remaining smoked mozzarella, spreading it out evenly.
5. Cover the lasagna pan well with aluminum foil, and bake in a preheated 325 degrees oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil, and place under the broiler until brown and bubbly on top, about 1 minute. Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into sections and place on plates. There will probably be a little creamy liquid at the bottom of the lasagna pan. Reduce briefly, if desired, and spoon a little over the lasagna portions. Sprinkle each portion with salt and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve.
Note: This recipe, especially, is good with fresh lasagna noodles. It doesn't have as much goo in the middle as other lasagnas, and the fresh noodles help pull it together.
You've probably never had a lasagna like this one: austere, unsaucy, devoted singularly to the flavors of one ingredient -- mushrooms. And do those flavors ever come through! The smoky mozzarella only serves to underline the earthy, woodsy autumnness of it all. Use the deepest-tasting wild mushrooms you can find (we've done this dish with everything from French chanterelles to Japanese mitsutake mushrooms). The key to success is slicing all of the mushrooms very thinly; the thinness of the cut is what gives the dish its delicacy. We like to use a mandoline or one of those less expensive plastic versions. Serves 6