Sunday, October 14, 2018

White Lasagna with Sausage and Truffles

Umbria is known as the green heart of Italy because it is land-locked; it doesn't border another country or either coast.  Often bypassed by visitors for it's more glittering neighbor, Tuscany, Umbria has a wealth of history predating the Romans, amazing scenery and magnificent cuisine.  The culinary treasures here are black and white truffles, pork in any iteration, pecorino cheese, black celery and cippolini that earn a DOC seal, lentils, farro, olive oil, and Sagrantino wines all contribute to the bounty of delicious foods that are served not only in homes but in the restaurants and shops. 
A week ago, Dr. C. and I were invited to a dinner in Todi at a friends' house.  She confessed that she hadn't made the lasagna, but had bought it at their favorite pasta shop---I'm all for making things easy, and this lasagna was memorable.  Thin sheets of pasta sandwiched with pork sausage, in a creamy truffle sauce.  I have dreamed of this pasta for a week, and today decided to make it.  It's Sunday and that calls for something special for Sunday lunch, the UK isn't the only place that reveres a Sunday lunch.
Yesterday Dr. C. and I traveled to Bevagna to Scottadito Tagliavento to pick up some sausages for the lasagna and ended up with a bisteka for last night's dinner. 

I'd say that for the sausage we used about 1/2 pound removed from the casings for the lasagna. Here in Umbria the sausage is made with pork, salt, pepper, and maybe a bit of garlic, but not a lot. 
This is a pretty simple dish to put together, and all the components can be made ahead then put together and baked. 

My friend who was serving the lasagna gifted me with this black truffle, Mama Mia!

White Lasagna with Black Truffles
Serves 6
I know not everyone has access to fresh truffles; rather than using truffle oil, which is usually made in laboratories, I'd suggest sauteing some meaty mushrooms like cremini, or if you can find them porcini, dice them finely or shave them, you want them to dissolve into the sauce.  

1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from the casing
1/4 cup unsalted butter or olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (if you aren't using truffles, use 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup shaved black truffle
salt and pepper
Fresh pasta to make 3 layers, or 9 Barilla no boil lasagna noodles
sliced soft pecorino cheese for garnish (if you can't find it, use Asiago)

In a skillet cook the sausage until it is no longer pink, breaking up any large pieces.  Drain and set aside to cool.

In a saucepan melt the butter, add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes to cook the flour.

Add the broth and milk, and whisk until the mixture comes back to a boil.  

Remove from the heat, add the cheese, and truffles, season with salt and pepper if necessary.  

Coat the inside of a 13-by-9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Ladle some of the sauce into the pan, and spread to cover the bottom.  

lay a sheet of pasta over the sauce, and ladle a bit of the sauce over the pasta.  Top with 1/2 of the sausage.  

Top with a layer of pasta, sauce, and the remaining sausage. 
Lay the last 3 pieces of pasta on top, spread the remaining sauce on the top and spread the soft pecorino over the sauce.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until the lasagna is bubbling, and the cheese is golden brown.  Allow the lasagna to rest for 10 minutes before cutting. 
Do-Ahead: The entire lasagna can be assembled 48 hours ahead of time, bring to room temperature and bake.  Since truffles are so delicate, I probably wouldn't freeze this, but you could.

This is a rich lasagna, studded with nuggets of pork and redolent of truffle and pecorino, the perfect way to enjoy Umbria on a Sunday afternoon.  We served it with a salad dressed with red wine vinegar (to cut the richness) and a white Grecchetto.  And, I have enough truffle left over to make this again before we leave.  Now it's time for a walk and a gelato.  Ciao for now.

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