First, props to Julie Summerell. She started it. She mentioned lasagna and then let slip that a little pancetta fried up crispy and crumbled into the ricotta goop was the secret to a great dish. For the unwashed, pancetta is Italian for bacon – not as smoky as the US version, little more spice stuff going on in there, but it’s still bacon.
Now I love lasagna. And I do love me some bacon. But bacon, it ain’t a seasoning. It don’t play second fiddle. You throw bacon in a sandwich, and it ain’t a lettuce, tomato and bacon sandwich. No sir, the bacon gets top billing. You have bacon for breakfast, it ain’t eggs and bacon, it’s bacon and eggs. So, while the idea of bacon in the lasagna resonated, the idea of it only doing a cameo just didn’t seem right.
And so, the idea for Baconsagna was born.
I ran off to Prisco’s, the grocery just down a ways that carries all things Italian and got me a nice big slab of pancetta, had them thick slice it. My original idea was just make your basic lasagna with a layer of pancetta every time you’d normally scatter in the Italian sausage. But then I decided the bacon ought to have some of its usual running mates on the ticket. Onions go with bacon. Mushrooms go with bacon. Lettuce goes with bacon, but lettuce ain’t gonna fare well in no 400 degree oven, but spinach can play lettuce in a salad, so some spinach. And, of course, tomatoes go with bacon.
I sliced up a few big, beefsteak tomatoes. I fried up the pancetta to a nice crisp and set that aside. Then I fried the onions and the shrooms in the bacon grease and put them in a bowl. I tossed the spinach in the pan just long enough to wilt it in the grease a touch and tossed that in another bowl with a bit of balsamic. I made the usual ricotta/egg/cheese goop (I always sauté up a mess of slivered fresh garlic and pour the melted butter and the garlic into the cheese goop).
Construction time. Boiled up the noodles and started the usual layering – little sauce in the bottom of the pan, noodles, then slather on some cheese goop and spread a little sauce (I used a sweet basil marinara, but use what you like.) Then I tiled in a layer of the spinach, drizzled a touch more balsamic on that, layered the pancetta over that, sprinkled the onion/shroom mix on top, added a strata of tomato slices, then I and repeated the process until I was out of stuff. An hour in a 400 degree oven, let it sit for 15 minutes or so, then dish that bad boy out.
My son, who had been waiting impatiently for dinner through this whole deal – and dinner was late, ‘cause lasagna in any description ain’t a 30-minutes-to-the-table thing – was suspicious. Traditionalist, the boy, and he was afraid I was gonna incur the wrath of Garfield the Cat by fucking with lasagna as nature intended. But, when he tried it, he said, “It’s really good – I mean if you like bacon.” Which is a little like saying that rolling around naked in jell-o with all the Victoria’s Secret models would be really good – if you like sex.
So try it. I mean, unless you don’t like bacon. In which case, leave my blog. Now, and don’t ever come back.