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This dish blew me away the first time we made it. We had never made the ragu sauce before--I don't think we came close to a version good Italian cooks would produce, and it was still incredible. (In case you don't know Marcella Hazan's cookbooks, they are great.)
This is complicated because of the time and steps it takes. We've put the separate parts of the recipe in separate entries because they can be used for so many dishes. If you want a more intense flavor, you could substitute the Ragu: Peter Chastain's Recipe for the sauce listed as Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style.
This is not for cooking on an evening after work, but once in a while it is a great treat. Don't count the calories, and enjoy!
Basic Polenta, allowed to cool
2 cups Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
(you will find the sauces and polenta under titles just like you see them here)
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Make the béchamel keeping it on the thin side by cooking it less. It should have the consistency of sour cream. Set aside.
Slice the cold polenta horizontally into 3 layers, each about ½ inch high. Watch both sides of the polenta mass as you cut to make sure you are slicing evenly.
Lightly butter an 11-inch lasagna pan. Cover with a layer of polenta, patching where necessary to cover uniformly. Spread béchamel sauce over the polenta, then spread the meat sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover this with another layer of polenta and repeat the operation, leaving just enough béchamel, meat sauce and Parmesan for a light topping over tbe next and final layer of polenta. Dot the top lightly with butter.
Bake in the uppermost level of the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until a light crust has formed on top. (Note: it took us a whole lot longer than this to heat it through... more like 45 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to settle for about 5 minutes.
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