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VINCISGRASSI - Special Lasagna

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The Marches
Cook: Several hours; difficult
Serves 8

A dish from the Marches with an odd name. Vincisgrassi is the Italianization of the name of the Austrian general, Prince Windischgratz, who was commander of the Austrian Forces stationed in the Marches. The dish was allegedly created for the prince by a local chef.

INGREDIENTS: THE SAUCE
  • 5 TBSP butter
  • 2 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in half
  • 9 oz fresh chicken livers, cleaned and cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste dissolved in
  • 1/2 cup warm beef or chicken stock
  • 9 oz calf's brain and sweetbreads, cleaned and blanched
  • 1 thick slice of lemon
  • salt
  • 2/3 oz dried porcini
  • 4 oz cultivated mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, squashed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
THE LASAGNE
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 1 1/2 TBSP semolina
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 TBSP butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vin santo or medium-dry sherry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • béchamel sauce made with 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup flour and 4 1/3 cups milk
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
OO Medium sauce pan; mixing bowls; oven proof baking dish.

METHOD:
  1. Put the butter, prosciutto, onion and carrot in a saucepan over a medium heat and brown the vegetables Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the vegetables and discard.
  2. Fry the chicken livers in the saucepan with the prosciutto for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour over the wine and reduce briskly until it has evaporated. Add the tomato paste dissolved in the stock, mix well and bring the sauce to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer very gently for 1 1/2 hours. Add a little water during the cooking if the liquid dries out.
  3. Simmer the brain in water with the lemon for 5 minutes. Drain and refresh. Meanwhile, soak the dried porcini in 1/4 cup warm water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Clean and slice the fresh mushrooms. Sauté them with the garlic in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.
  4. Strain the porcini liquid through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towels. Slice the porcini and put them, together with the fresh mushrooms and the porcini liquid, into the chicken liver sauce after the sauce has been cooking for 1 hour. Cut the brain and sweetbread into small pieces and add to the sauce with the milk, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  5. Taste, check seasonings and continue cooling.
  6. Make the béchamel sauce, and cover it with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming.
  7. To make the lasagne, mix the flour and the semolina on a work surface, make a well in the center and drop in the eggs, the softened butter, the vin santo and a little salt. Mix and knead following the instructions for homemade pasta.
  8. Butter a lasagne pan 11 x 8 inches. Cut the pasta into strips the same length as the dish and about 4 inches wide. Cook 3 or 4 lasagne at a time in plenty of salted boiling water to which 1 TBSP oil has been added.
  9. Spread 3 TBSP béchamel over the bottom of the dish and then cover with a layer of lasagne. Spoon over 3 or 4 spoons of the chicken liver and mushroom sauce and the same amount of béchamel Cover with another layer of lasagne and repeat until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of lasagne and béchamel.
  10. Allow to stand for at least 4 hours for all the flavors to combine and then bake in a preheated oven (400 degrees F) for about 25 minutes.
  11. Melt the butter and pour over the vincisgrassi. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and leave outside the oven for about 5 minutes before serving.

From:
Gastronomy of Italy
Anna Del Conte
Prentice Hall Press

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