I was looking for something to do with all the rabbit livers I've had in my freezer, and stumbled upon this recipe for vincisgrassi, a lasagne dish from the Italian Marches. It was labelled difficult, was full of exotic ingredients like sweetbreads and calf brains, and was mentionned in rave reviews as the star dish for exactly one inn in Wales and one in some Aussie town I'd never heard of.
It was definitely time consuming, though not so difficult. It is also completely decadent and delicious. The ragù was thick and meaty - not at all like the tomato-heavy sauces that I usually associate with lasagne. The béchamel sauce added a creamy richness. With a little tweaking I can add this to my short list of show-off dishes.
The photo is from Kuidaore in Singapore, who tempted me with a photo but didn't provide a recipe.
First: How I did it. Second: Variations
- 5 T butter
- 2oz prosciutto ends [the chunky part], ventreche, pancetta, or other chunky fatty ham/bacon; diced small
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 1 carrot, cut in half
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pound rabbit livers, cleaned and chopped [recipe called for chicken livers]
- 1/3 c dry white wine
- 1 T tomato paste, dissolved in
- 1/2 c warm stock
- 1 pound veal shanks, meat diced small, save marrow
- 2/3 oz dried porcini
- 1/2 c milk
- 1/2 t ground nutmeg
- 1/4 t ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- Add butter, prosciutto, onion, garlic, and carrot over medium heat until veggies are browned. Remove from heat, toss onion, carrot, and garlic.
- Add meat and fry for one minute.
- Add liver and fry for one minute.
- Add wine, cook until evaporated
- Add marrow, stock and tomato paste, bring to boil, then reduce heat.
- Simmer for 60". Add stock if it dries out.
- Soak porcini in 1/4 cup hot water for 20"
- Add porcini liquid to pan. Chop porcini and add. Cook 30" or more, until meat is tender.
- Add 1/2 c warm milk [I forgot this step].
- Add spices, season to taste.
Besciamella: the béchamel
- 2T butter
- 3 T flour
- 1.5 c warm milk
- 1/8 t nutmeg
- Melt butter. Make roux with flour. Add milk 1/4 c at a time. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper.
- Remove from heat, and cover until ready.
- Butter lasagne pan
- Add 3 T béchamel to bottom of pan
- Add layer of cooked pasta
- Add 3-4 spoons ragù, 3-4 spoons béchamel, layer of pasta
- Top with béchamel
- Let rest up to four hours, for flavors to blend
- Cook for 25" in 400 degree oven.
- Drizzle 2 T melted butter and 1/2 c parmesan cheese on top. Let rest until set.
- Saute 4oz mushrooms in garlic and olive oil, then add 'shrooms to sauce with porcini. This was in the original recipe, but I didn't have mushrooms. I'll do this next time.
- In Step 1, add celery stalk, 2-3 cloves, and lots of marjoram.
- Original recipe called for sweetbreads and calf brains instead of the meat. Simmer in lemon water for five minutes, drain, and add at the end with the milk. I would try the sweetbreads but I can't get them here.
- Other recipes substitute ground veal, pork, and beef for the sweetbreads. I prefer my style; the meat gave it a nice heft.
- Use 3# grated tomatoes instead of tomato paste. I'll do this next time, but with less tomatoes.
- Make a side sauce by frying 2# beef bones, 12oz pork bones, and 8oz lamb bones in 8oz cured but not rendered lard. When brown, add 3# grated tomatoes. Simmer for 2 hours. Toss bones, and add sauce to meat. I"ll try this next time also.