Several days ago, I became very bored. This is not surprising, as you might imagine, gentle reader. Social media has presented me with many things to occupy me in these moments, and it all came down to a conversation about horrifying recipes. You know them. I am certain that all of you have your own story about the casserole your aunt brings to the Thanksgiving feast with the tuna in it, or the fruitcake made with skittles. Perhaps your father is simply inexcusably bereft of culinary skill. Ramen is usually involved. Tinned tomatoes. You take my meaning.
In any event, it got me to thinking, that some of these appalling crimes really do deserve recognition for sheer audacity alone, and so, I began a friendly contest on Tumblr. In the future, I will perhaps hold more of these, and this trial run will provide the framework, but for now, I can tell you that there were many revolting entries. The winning dish?
Grandma’s “You are so ungrateful” lasagna:
@youcantseebutimmakingaface – “Lasagna noodles, cans of tomato paste, 5 lbs Italian sausage, 3 pork chops, ground beef with no fat content, FUCKING. RAISINS, 1 pinch each salt and pepper… flavorless white cheese…Burn ground beef into kitty litter like granules, inexplicably mix with raisins…Make sauce…Boil sausage, pork chops, tomato paste, and salt and pepper until flavorless and slightly burnt. Layer noodles, cheese, meat/raisin hell, using approximately a shot glass of sauce…Bake until burnt. Use…to make a firepit or decorative patio”
I found this recipe utterly irredeemable, and so of course, it must be redeemed. This, however, involved some heated debate, and resulted in a secondary competition between myself and Chef, who staunchly opposed my notions of turning the dish from an entree to a dessert.
And so, as promised, I give you my recipe, and in a secondary post, his. Make them for yourself and be the judge. Which has won? No one at this end could truly decide.
Vietnamese-inspired Cheese Course, a recipe (Or raisin lasagna done with pinache, if you prefer)
- Small casserole dish, about 4” square
- Food Processor
- several pots
- 1/2 lb ground pork (Make certain to get an even balance of fat)
- 1 package ricotta cheese
- 1 package of soft goat cheese
- 1 small egg
- 1 small package of mascarpone cheese
- 1 c. raisins
- 1/2 c. currants
- 3 sugar dates (pitted)
- 1 package of small cherry tomatoes (Please perform the “sniff test” and choose one with the best tomato sweetness)
- port wine
- balsamic vinegar
- several large lasagna noodles (Mine were hand made, but you may purchase dried pasta, as we are going to fry them anyway)
- olive oil
- brown sugar
- mint (for garnish)
- sliced almonds
- Preheat your oven to about 350
- Boil your tiny tomatoes, until their skins begin to split, then blanch with cold water, and gently shrug them out of their red coats.
- Place in a food processor with raisins, dates, currants, about 1 cup of port, several tablespoons of balsamic. Pulse until nicely blended. Pour back into the pot and boil
- You must achieve a thick, tangy, but sweet flavor profile, and so please add or diminish as you like. Once your sauce has cooked off all the alcohol, and is about the texture of tomato paste, run it through the sieve, by pressing it through with a spoon.
- Return to the put and continue to add wine, vinegar, or whatever you would like. When you believe it has achieved the proper taste, you should set about 1/3 of it aside, and then continue to reduce the other 2/3, stirring constantly, until you have created a dark syrup. Set this aside
- Start your noodles boiling.
- Brown your pork, very lightly seasoning with salt. Set aside.
- Once the noodles are finished, drain. Sprinkle them liberally with brown sugar. Add some oil to the pork fat in the skillet and fry the noodles lightly, until they begin to brown a little, or fold up at the edges. Lay these aside to cool.
- Throw your meat and the thinner sauce into the food processor, and turn into a paste
- Mix about 1/2 the ricotta with 1/2 the goat cheese. (You would ideally wish to have a somewhat gamey flavor.) Whisk the egg and then beat into this mixture.
- It is time to assemble your “lasagna”. Carefully oil the inside of the dish. put a spoonful of your stronger sauce at the bottom and work this around into a thin layer. Line the bottom with one of your fried noodles. Spread a generous layer of your goat cheese mixture until the noodle is covered. do the same with the meat mixture, and another spoonful of your stronger reduction. Repeat as many times as fills your dish or uses up your ingredients, making sure to finish with noodles.
- Cover in foil and bake for as long as it takes the thing to boil for about ten minutes (We are merely cooking the egg, so do not overcook your dessert simply for a little raw egg. It is a cheesecake, not a brick.) Let us say 45 minutes?
- Allow to cool, and then upend on a plate. It should pop free, but if not, run a knife around the sides.
- Cover with the sliced almonds, pipe fresh mascarpone on top as you would whipped cream, and drizzle with your stronger reduction.
Garnish with hefty amounts of mint. Serve in small cubes, and ideally, pair it with a tawny port. I do believe you will no be disappointed.