This Porcini and Prosciutto Lasagna has a long history and a warm place in my heart.
It was always a student fave at Northwest Culinary Academy.
And then, at a recent celebration of life in Bellingham for beloved friend, Christy Thompson, something funny happened.
Two of her close friends corralled me and started talking about Christy’s “famous” mushroom lasagna and how she refused to share the recipe with them. It turns out that she served it often to her friends in this close-knit community.
I laughed as I fought back tears. I developed and gave her that recipe decades ago. It was a favorite of my students at Northwest Culinary Academy.
I know she set up this meeting so that her friends will make the recipe in her memory for years to come–as she moves on to new adventures in the great beyond.
So today I recreated it, got photos, and posted to the web (as I promised her friends).
Christy, this is for you, my cherished and beloved friend. We always loved our time in the kitchen together.
Porcini & Prosciutto Lasagna
My friend, Christy Thompson, used shiitake mushrooms for the fresh mushroom portion of this recipe. I usually use chanterelle or cremini mushrooms. However, both shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms can be over-the-top pricey these days. And honestly, you’ll get equally marvelous results with more affordable white button or cremini mushrooms. They both have great texture, and the dried porcini mushrooms carry most of the mushroom flavor wallop. So, in other words, don’t fret over which fresh mushrooms to use.
1½ ounces (about 2 loosely packed cups) dried porcini mushrooms
1½ pounds fresh, firm, wild or cultivated mushrooms, ends trimmed (Christy often used fresh shitake mushrooms for this lasagna, which initially surprised me. But hey, why not? I usually use chanterelle or cremini mushrooms.)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup yellow onion chopped very fine
1 cup best-quality canned Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound fresh lasagna sheets, cut in strips to fit the baking dish, remembering that pasta swells considerably when boiled
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3¾ cups milk
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into julienne strips
½ cup grated fontina
½ cup grated provolone
½ cup grated mozzarella
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
- To hydrate dried mushrooms, in a small bowl with 2 cups lukewarm water, soak dried mushrooms for at least 30 minutes (sometimes they take as long as 2 hours to fully hydrate).
- After soaking, lift mushrooms carefully without stirring up the water in the bowl, and rinse in several changes of water to eliminate any remaining grit. Squeeze dry of excess liquid. (Soaking liquid can be strained and saved for another use.)
- Chop hydrated mushrooms into large pieces, and reserve.
- To prepare fresh mushrooms, rinse quickly under cold running water.
- Drain well, and wipe dry with paper towels. Cut into thin lengthwise slices, without detaching the caps.
- To cook mushrooms, choose a sauté pan large enough to accommodate mushrooms without crowding.
- Put oil, butter, and chopped onion into the pan, and turn heat to medium. When onion becomes translucent, add reconstituted porcini, chopped tomatoes, and parsley.
- Stir well, and simmer to evaporate most of the liquid.
- When liquid has evaporated, add sliced fresh mushrooms, and increase heat to high.
- Add salt and a grinding of pepper.
- Cook uncovered, at lively heat, stirring frequently, for 7-8 minutes, until all liquid released from the fresh mushrooms evaporates.
- Add chopped porcini mushrooms.
- Turn off heat, taste, and correct for salt and pepper. Reserve.
- Set a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 400º.
- To make Béchamel Sauce, in a medium sauté pan, over medium heat, melt butter, and add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, without browning, for about 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Whisk for 1 minute, and then remove from heat. Keep warm, covered with a sheet of plastic wrap.
- To cook pasta, in a large pot, with plenty of well salted boiling water, cook fresh pasta for about 2-3 minutes, until al dente. Drain, and refresh under cold running water.
- To layer lasagna, coat bottom and sides of a 9- by 13-inch (10 cup capacity) baking dish with butter. Combine all cheeses.
- Spread on a thin layer of béchamel sauce.
- Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of pasta. Cut strips of pasta to fit the pan; overlap them slightly, no more than 1/4-inch. Spread a thinly distributed layer of mushrooms over the pasta. Combine cheeses.
- Scatter a few strips of prosciutto over this first layer; and then sprinkle with a portion of the combined cheeses. Cover with another layer of pasta, and then repeat the sequence of mushrooms, béchamel, prosciutto, and cheese.
- Continue building up layers of pasta and filling until you reach a maximum of 6 layers of pasta. Over the topmost layer of pasta, spread béchamel sauce, and sprinkle with remaining cheeses.
- To bake, place the pan in the uppermost level of the preheated oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until a light golden crust forms on top.
- If after 10 minutes there’s no crust beginning to form, raise the oven heat another 50-75 degrees for the next 5 minutes.
- To serve, after removing lasagna from the oven, allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve directly from baking dish.
Copyright 1990-2017, Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.