Vincisgrassi is a porcini mushroom and ham lasagna that's a specialty of Le Marche. This version is based on Giorgio Locatelli's Made at Home, though I have made fresh pasta for the lasagne sheets (feel free to also use store-bought), and I significantly reduced the amount of béchamel in the original recipe. If you can't get fresh (or even frozen) porcini, feel free to use any mixture of wild mushrooms. I feel like this would be delicious with a seasonal substitute for mushrooms: peas in spring or artichokes in late winter, for example. It serves 6 very hungry people if this is the only thing being served, or plenty for 8 if there are other dishes being served.
On the use of fresh lasagna sheets, two things. I favor fresh pasta if I'm doing something special; it tastes so different. But dry sheets or fresh store-bought are just fine. The second thing is, whether you choose fresh homemade or fresh store-bought pasta, you should blanch it. This contributes to a great texture in the pasta—it retains its shape and consistency rather than turning extremely soft and mushy. Store bought dry pasta sheets are often designed to be used directly, so there's no need to blanch them. —Emiko
- Serves 6-8 people
- For the fresh pasta sheets:
(2 1/4 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) flour
(400 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
(a generous handful) of dried porcini mushrooms
(50 grams) butter, plus 6 tablespoons (90 grams) butter for bechamel
cloves garlic, crushed
(150 grams) prosciutto, chopped
(450 grams) fresh wild mushrooms (porcini, chantarelles, etc), cleaned and sliced or chopped
glass white wine
(225 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
(1250 ml) whole milk
(90 grams) flour
salt and pepper to taste
- For the fresh pasta sheets:
- Place the flour in a large, white bowl or on a clean surface and create a well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the well and begin whisking with a fork: first the eggs, until creamy, then slowly incorporate the flour around it, bit by bit.
- When the dough becomes too thick to whisk with a fork, continue with hands, mixing the surrounding flour into the dough as you go. When no longer sticky, knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough on a pasta machine to the second thinnest setting on your machine. Cut into pieces that will fit well in the casserole dish that you'll use for the vincisgrassi. Dust the pieces of pasta well in flour. I don't like to overlap them if I'm not using them right away because you risk them sticking, I prefer to lay them out on a board in a single layer, then if extra space is needed, layered between greaseproof paper.) Set aside until needed.
- Bring stock to the boil, then off the heat add the dried porcini and let infuse for about 1 hour. Strain, chopping the mushrooms and setting aside the porcini water.
- Prepare the béchamel by warming the milk in a pan to near boiling. In a separate pan, melt 90 grams (6 tablespoons) of butter, whisk in the flour and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, until thick. Whisk in the warm milk bit by bit until smooth and keep cooking over low heat a further few minutes or until you have a thick sauce (note, this is on the runnier side for bechamel sauces). Season well and take off the heat.
- Cook the garlic in the rest of the butter until fragrant but not browned. Add the prosciutto, the rehydrated chopped porcini and continue cooking for 2 minutes on medium heat (careful not to let the garlic burn). Add the fresh mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Pour over the white wine. Turn heat up and allow the wine to cook off, then pour over the porcini-infused stock. Let simmer 10 minutes to reduce the liquid slightly, then pour over about three-quarters of the bechamel sauce, saving the rest for later. Stir to combine then set aside. Adjust seasoning.
- Preheat oven to 180° C/350° F.
- Prepare a large pot of boiling water to blanch the lasagne sheets for 30 seconds each—remove and drain on a clean kitchen towel (don't overlap them at this stage, they are very sticky!). For this reason, I do this as I go, blanching as I need them, it is very quick and you get into a rhythm!)
- In a large casserole dish (9x12 inches or 23x30cm roughly), place a layer of the mushroom sauce. Cover with lasagne sheets, ladle a layer of mushroom sauce, followed by a handful of grated parmesan. Continue layering pasta, sauce and Parmesan until you reach the top or run out of sauce. When you get to the last layer, pour over the plain bechamel sauce, followed by abundant grated Parmesan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, just enough to see the sauce bubbling around the edges and a browned crisp top.