Buongiorno! Translated from Italian to cowboy language, that a greeting that means “good day.” For today’s Christmas edition, I’m taking a traditional Italian baked lasagna and putting a cowboy twist on it. Hey, that sounds like a good day to me!

The foundation for any good Italian dish is the sauce. So I’m starting with a dozen Roma tomatoes, putting them in a stock pot that’s about half full of water and boiling about 10-15 minutes, until the skin starts to crack. Take the tomatoes out of the hot water and put them in cool water. You’ll want to peel the tomatoes later and the cool water will make that process easier.

Let’s Meat At The Skillet

I’m using a pound and a half of Certified Angus Beef along with a pound of Italian sausage and browning it over medium heat. Fold in one pound of sliced mushrooms, season with Red River Ranch Original Seasoning and let the meat mixture continue to cook.

Time To Hit The Sauce

Take the cooled tomatoes, peel and place in a blender with garlic, onion and herbs. Now, here’s where we break tradition by adding a can of Rotel diced tomatoes w/green chilies. Follow with Italian seasoning and Worcestershire sauce then pulse until well blended. Put half of the sauce in a sauce pan and add the browned meat. Using the skillet you cooked your meat in, add butter and chopped onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add a can of tomato paste and mix well.

Tip: Watch the mixture closely because you just want it to brown, not burn.

Uniting Two Sauces

Pour the butter/tomato paste mixture into the blender that’s been holding half the original tomato sauce. Blend together to incorporate all the flavors, adding a little olive oil and some coarse ground black pepper. Pour this sauce into the sauce pan that holds your meat mixture. Add one half cup of dry red wine and let this simmer together for three hours. This is will be a thick sauce, so you’ll need to stir it often to keep the flavors blended.

Use Your Noodle

About 15 minutes before the sauce is finished cooking, put a one pound package of lasagna noodles into a stock pot of water and add a little oil. Boil together for about three minutes, until the noodles are al dente, or slightly undercooked. Remove from the heat and put the noodles in cold water.

Tip: Al dente noodles are preferred because they will continue cooking once put in the oven. Undercooking at this stage will keep them from getting mushy.

Getting Cheesy

Time for the make the gooey cheesiness that everybody loves about lasagna. It gets a little repetitive here, so bear with me. Beat two eggs. Stir together ricotta cheese and fresh mozzarella cheese with chopped spinach and shredded jalapeño pepper. Mix. Add shredded mozzarella. Mix. Add parmesan Romano. Mix.

Putting The Pieces Together

I’m using a 12-inch Dutch oven to bake this lasagna, but you can use a convention oven (375 degrees), as well. Just make sure your casserole dish is deep enough. First step: grease your Dutch oven or casserole, then add a thin layer of the meat sauce. Top with a layer of noodles and more meat sauce, then a layer of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers of noodles, meat sauce and cheese, ending with with the cheese mixture on top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, to keep the cheese from burning. Cook for 20-25 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 20-25 minutes. When the lasagna is done, remove from the heat and let it set for about 20 minutes before cutting into it.

You’ll be happy you tried this cowboy version of baked lasagna. It’s full of cheesy goodness that will make any day a good day.

Ingredients

  • 12 Roma tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ¾ cup chopped basil
  • ½ cup chopped spinach
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 2 white onions divided
  • 1 10 oz can Rotel green chiles and tomatoes drained
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sweet italian sausage
  • 1 pound chopped mushrooms
  • Red RIver Ranch Original or seasoning of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ stick butter
  • 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese diced
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese shredded (divided)
  • ½ cup minced spinach or parsley
  • cup grated jalapenos
  • 1 lb. lasagna noodles
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the tomatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil until the skins crack. Remove the tomatoes place in cold water for a few minutes. Peel and add to a blender. To the blender add the parsley, basil, spinach, garlic cloves, 1 onion (quartered), Rotel, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Crumble the beef and Italian sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 4 minutes or until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mushrooms, Original seasoning, fennel seeds and pepper flakes. Cook until the meat has completely browned.
  3. Pour the beef mixture into a stock pot. Pour in half the contents of the blender into the pot. Reserve the other half in the blender. Set aside.
  4. Return to the skillet and add the butter and remaining 1 white onion (chopped). Cook for about 3 minutes or until the onions are tender.
  5. Stir in tomato paste and bring it to a simmer stirring constantly for about 2 to 3 minutes to brown the sauce just a little.
  6. Add the tomato paste mixture to the remaining ingredients in the blender. Add the black pepper and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
  7. Stir the blender contents into the stock pot with the meat and sauce.
  8. Stir in the red wine. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours.
  9. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, diced mozzarella, 8 oz. of the grated mozzarella, spinach and jalapenos. Stir in the eggs until smooth. Set aside.

  10. In a large stockpot add the noodles and cover with water. Stir in a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook for about 3 minutes or until al dente. Remove the noodles from the pot and place in cold water.
  11. In a large deep casserole dish or 12-inch Dutch oven, place a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom. Top with a layer of noodles, meat sauce and ⅓ of the cheese mixtures. Top with the noodles laying in the opposite direction of the first layer followed by meat sauce, cheese mixture until all the ingredients are used.
  12. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 8 oz grated shredded Mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes.

  13. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 375 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes,then remove the foi. Continue cooking another 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown.
  14. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes then cut into squares and serve.