Fish Camp Lasagna
About once a year, for maybe fifteen years, these three guys go off on a 'fishing' trip for three days. It's mostly just good fellowship, but we eat really well. Each guy cooks one breakfast and one dinner.
I'm not sure that my lasagna beat out Skip's chicken casserole nor Dr. Gary's exquisitely prepared steak, marinated for three days in Dale's sauce, but all agreed the lasagna to be at least double yum, and definitely blogpost worthy.
So here we go...
We start off the day with a little spin casting for bass, and set out the 'noodles', hoping for a catfish dinner. The noodles are a section of swimming pool float noodle about a foot or so long, with a 50 pound fishing line threaded through the middle and tied. You leave about 4-5 feet of line, add a weight and large hook, and you are set to fish. Add a wiener niblet to the hook, and throw it overboard.
After a few hours, you essentially chase the noodles over the lake. If there is much wind at all, the noodles can travel several miles, but they are very easy to see with their bright fluorescent colors.
We had planned for catfish, but I just had not brought the materials to clean and cook a stew from what we caught...
Wow! Snapping turtles make the yummiest stew you could imagine! The legs and tail are dark meat, and the neck and breast straps are light meat. And it all has different textures. Some like poultry, and some like lobster. Oh well, put him back for another day.
We'll start off with some prep.
1 1/2 stick butter should be allowed to come to room temperature in a bowl. Crush and mince 6-8 cloves of garlic and then mix them into the softened butter, resulting in a garlic butter paste.
Onions should be sautéed until translucent but not browned and set aside.
One pound of lean ground beef, also sautéed until done but not browned and set aside.
Spray a 9X11, or thereabouts in size, pyrex or baking dish with cooking spray, then add a light coating of RAO's Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce. RAO's is awesome. Skimp on your marinara sauce brand, and you just compromised the taste of the final product.
Spread a layer of ricotta cheese over the noodles, add 1/3 each of the ground beef, mushrooms, onions, and 1 cup Kraft Italian Blend shredded cheese.
Repeat this process two more times, adding lasagna noodles, then the toppings.
Looks good already, doesn't it?
Now it's off to the oven at 400 degrees, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove aluminum foil, add the remaining Italian Blend cheese, and bake for another 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove from the oven to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Any great, or even just good, Italian offering needs a good garlic bread to accompany it. I more prefer a nice loaf of French bread, angle cut, and coated with a garlic butter, then toasted.
And you were wondering "What in the world does a garlic butter spread have to do with making lasagna?"
1 large tub Ricotta cheese (1 lb.)
2- 2 cup packages Kraft Italian Blend shredded cheese
6-8 cloves garlic
1 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1 small to medium sweet onion
1 pound 96% lean ground beef
1 loaf French Bread or Italian bread of your choice
Dice a small to medium sweet onion and sautee until translucent. Set aside.
Sautee a large tray pack of sliced mushrooms until tender but not browned. Set aside.
Cook hamburger meat until done but not browned. A 96% ground beef will cook to dry, with little or no liquid remaining, so no need to drain.
Cook lasagne strips as per package directions, including the chill water bath at the end of the process.
Coat a 9 x 11 baking dish with cooking spray, then add a light coating of the RAO's Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce. Add three strips of lasagna, or more if needed to cover the pan. Scoop out 1/3 of the Ricotta cheese with a spoon onto the lasagna, then, using the back of the spoon, coat all of the lasagna. Add 1/3 of the cooked ground beef, sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, and 1/2 cup of the Italian blend cheese.
Repeat the lasagna strips and 'goodies' two more times, for a total of three layers.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
While the lasagna is baking, angle slice the loaf of French bread, allowing, on average, 4 slices per serving of lasagna. Place in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet and coat liberally with the garlic butter.
After 30 minutes, remove the aluminum foil from the lasagna, add the remaining cup of Italian Blend shredded cheese, and bake for another five minutes.
Remove the lasagna to rest for 5-10 minutes, and place the bread into the oven. After 5 minutes the bread should be done. If you'd like a bit of golden toasted top, set oven to broil, but keep a careful eye on the bread. It will burn rapidly on broil. Remove bread to a towel lined serving bowl, and cover, placing on serving table.
Cut lasagna and serve to table already plated. Be generous with your portions. Lasagna is made to be eaten, not looked at, so serve it up generously. My portions are usually about 4 1/2" by 3 1/2 inches wide. Portions this size yield 6 servings per pan. On average, 4 slices of toasted garlic bread per serving this size.