Ok, so your Thanksgiving might look a little bit different this year. Though there might not be as many people gathering around your table, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a big Thanksgiving celebration. REALLY big.
Our own Test Kitchen director, Belle English, is teaming up with cookbook author and blogger, Gaby Dalkin, to host a live virtual event attempting to set the World Record for the World’s Largest Virtual Friendsgiving.
Join us this Sunday, Nov. 22nd at 4pm PST
for our attempt at the World’s Largest Virtual Friendsgiving
to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
For the first time this year, all donations made during the event at williams-sonoma.com/stjude will be matched by Williams Sonoma. Gaby and Belle will join some of your favorite celebrity chefs to share recipes, tips and tricks for the ultimate Friendsgiving at home. Come with your questions and they will answer them all live.
On the menu are cherished family recipes including Gaby’s famous Wild Mushroom Stuffing (above), a staple at her annual Friendsgiving table, and Belle’s English Family Lasagna (recipe following). Both recipes are proof positive that our favorite holiday recipes are often those that are the least fussy and just the type of casual comfort food we look forward to year after year.
English Family Lasagna
A note from Belle on her family’s Thanksgiving tradition:
Growing up with two chef parents and an Italian grandmother, our Thanksgiving meal was always over the top, starting with our appetizer, a big ol’ serving of lasagna. You heard me! Lasagna. Which is actually a traditional part of many Italian American Thanksgivings and just as important to the table as the turkey itself. Over time this recipe has evolved from a classic mozzarella, ricotta and marinara to a Bolognese base, the first recipe my father ever taught me how to cook. Oh yeah, and I swapped the ricotta for a Parmesan BÉCHAMEL because why not! The family lasagna recipe as it stands today is a culmination of my grandmother, dad and me working together every Thanksgiving to make it just right. P.S. There is one important step not included in the recipe—the nap you have to take between this and the rest of the meal. Don’t skip this one!
For the Bolognese:
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 3/4 lb. (375 g) ground veal
- 3/4 lb. (375 g) ground beef chuck
- 3/4 lb. (375 g) ground pork
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbs. tomato paste
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry red wine
- 2 cans (each 28 oz./875 g) San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups (8 oz./250 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) half-and-half
For the béchamel:
- 7 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 6 cups (1.5 l) whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./180 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 lb. (500 g) dried lasagna noodles, parcooked for 4 minutes
- 20 oz. (625 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
Make the Bolognese
In large rondeau or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the veal, beef and pork and cook until browned, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the meat to bowl; set aside.
Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot, then add the butter. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the vegetables begin to burn. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste until combined, then add the wine. Cook until the wine has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
Using your hands, crush the tomatoes, then add to the pot. Stir to combine, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pot, then add the Parmesan and half of the half-and-half. Bring to a vigorous simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, the stir in remaining half-and-half and cook a few minutes more. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Make the béchamel
In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When it starts to foam, whisk in the flour until it forms a paste. Continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until the flour turns a light golden brown and begins to smell nutty, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking occasionally, the béchamel thickens and becomes smooth and velvety, 10 to 12 minutes. Whisk in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to let cool slightly.
Assemble the lasagna
Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) ceramic baking dish with olive oil. Spread about 1 scant cup of Bolognese on the bottom of the dish. Arrange a third of the noodles in an even layer over the bolognese, then top with half of the remaining bolognese, a third of the bechamel and half of the mozzarella. Repeat the layering of noodles, bolognese, bechamel and mozzarella, then top with a final layer of noodles, the remaining bechamel and an even sprinkling of Parmesan.
Cover the lasagna with a greased piece of aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, then uncover and increase the oven temperature to 450°F (220°C). Bake until the lasagna is deep golden brown, the cheese is bubbling, and the noodles on top are crisp, about 10 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes, then cut into slices and serve. Serves 8.