Volume 92, Issue 37
Tuesday, November 10, 1998
Impressing family, friends and yourself
What every student needs is an excellent dish to have in their arsenal in order to feed themselves for days, a group of friends coming over or prove to their parents they can cook for the family during the bi-semester "time to ask for more money" trip home.
This week we are going to take a page from Mama Chirico's old world recipe book and make an Italian-style cheese lasagna and match it with a great red wine.
The good thing about lasagna is its versatility to be either a carnivorous or vegetarian dish.
Making a lasagna is like playing with Lego you simply stack one layer on top of the other, in this case using a baking pan and voila you're done. Here are the layers: 1) Diluted tomato sauce, 2) Noodles, 3) Ricotta cheese, 4) Sauteed ground beef (optional), 5) Mozzarella, 6) Noodles, 7) Sauce, 8) Ricotta cheese, 9) Mozzarella, 10) Two layers of noodles, 11) Sauce, 12) Mozzarella.
So now it's time to put it together. Measure the noodles by counting how many you need to cover your pan, then multiply that by four and cook them aldente (undercooked). When putting them in you must alternate the direction of each layer in order to keep everything together.
Take three pounds of cheese, three eggs, one tsp. garlic power, one tsp. salt, one half tsp. pepper and two tbsp. parsley and mix in a bowl. Half of this mixture will go into each of the two layers of ricotta. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for an hour and 45 minutes.
The smell alone will make you feel as if you're on a Sicilian mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean, but no true Sicilian would touch this dish without a glass of good vino.
A medium to full-bodied red wine, with firm acidity, is the best match with lasagna.
The key to matching food and wine is to match the flavour of the wine with the strongest flavour on the plate. In this case, as with most pastas, it is tomatoes. Tomatoes have a very strong flavour due to their high acidity, thus it is important to find a big enough wine with firm acidity to match up.
Several new world (non-European) wine regions, including Ontario, often produce reds which have these characteristics. A Cabernet Sauvignon is a widely produced wine available at most Ontario wineries.
Most Ontario reds in the $10 to $25 price range provide good value and will match well with lasagna. Some of my favorite producers are: Henry of Pelham, Inniskillin and Cave Springs.
John Chirico's column appears biweekly on Tuesdays focusing on wine and food. His experience comes from nine years in the hospitality industry as well as having received his certification from the Wine Council of Ontario's superhost program.
To Contact The News Department: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © The Gazette 1998