By "popular" demand, tonight's Elder Days Story Time has a decided culinary bent. I'll be teaching you how to make the pasta of the gods, a delicious, dense, sweet lasagna well-suited to mead, Maredsous, and Dr Pepper. Credit goes to fellow oracle and vastly superior journalist Ben Hutchins, for the bones and soul of the recipe, and to my Uncle Njord, for flavor and substitution advice.
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, uncased (Yes, Italian. Vikings get around.)
1 pound ground leg of lamb
3 1/2 pounds Prego "Fresh Mushroom" flavored marinara sauce
1 pound sanctified ricotta cheese
1 pound grated mozzarella cheese (good luck finding it sanctified; regular will do in a pinch)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10-15 lasagne noodles
1 tablespoon chopped oregano (Thanks, Mister Hutchins! It really sells the cheese!)
First off, this is a holy dish. It's served to honor the Einherjar, those who have died nobly in battle. We therefore don't recommend serving it to infernal beings, giants, or certain (not all) creatures of the night, as these may take offense.
Now that we've taken precautions, we can start by sacrificing a lamb to Aegir (god of the deep oceans, known for his cruelty and hospitality. Truly a complex character) and taking a portion of the antebrachium to be ground and incorporated into the dish. Flick a few drops of the lamb's blood onto each lasagna noodle, to represent the sea and aid in the absorption of water. Set these noodles to boil for about 5 minutes. You don't want them to be noodly-pliable or even al dente, just a bit soft.
While you're waiting for the noodles to cook just a bit, brown your lamb and sausage together in a fairly large pan. Break the lamb up as small as possible, and the sausage into chunks 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch across, like tiny meatballs. Drain off the grease.
Now you've got your meat mix, you can stir in your spaghetti sauce. I sometimes catch some flak for making a supposedly reverent dish with off-the-shelf sauce, but I swear to you that not only is it much less troublesome than slaving over a simmering saucepan for twelve hours, it's better received to boot. Thanks again to Mister Hutchins for making this step a ton easier.
Pre-heat your oven to four hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
Blend together the ricotta, half the Parmesan, and the oregano to make a creamy, pale paste flecked with flavor. A note on the cheeses: Your good, blessed ricotta and mozzarella will not be marked as "low-fat." This is feasting fare; it's not meant to be healthy. Pack in those flavorful butterfats, to balance the even-more-delicious meatfats.
Coat the bottom of a rectangular pan (I have an ancient 9"x12" cast iron one that fits perfectly) with a couple cups of the meat admixture. You shouldn't be able to see the pan bottom, but you don't want to run out of meat too soon. Exercise balance. Lay down a noodle stratum (it should take four noodles, but pan sizes vary) atop the saucy foundation.
Paint the tops of the noodles with your cheese mix, then emplace a layer of mozzarella barely thick enough to obscure the flecks of oregano. Follow this with half the remaining meat, four more noodles, all the remaining ricotta/parmesan admixture, another layer of mozzarella, the rest of the meat, a third noodle layer, the remainder of the mozzarella, and top it all off with the second half of the Parmesan.
Don't fret too much about the precise order. As long as the noodles can absorb water from the sauce/meat and there's cheese on top, you should be fine.
Cover your dish with aluminum foil (or a lid if you have one) and pop that puppy in your now-toasty oven for about 40-45 minutes. Now take off the covering and bake it for most of the rest of the hour, watching more closely. When the surface starts bubbling and "breathing," turn down the heat to 350°F so as not to scorch the cheese. Once said cheese is just starting to brown, remove the lasagna from the oven and guard it fiercely from all comers for at least a quarter of an hour that it may cool and congeal. Once every meat-eating creature within smelling range has gone completely insane, the pasta is probably safe to cut and serve. This recipe serves six hearty raiders, two non-Thor gods, or ten college students. Feast well, my readers. Feast well.
Elder Days Story Time
- Lasagne Asgard