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PopsicleToze

Help! I have to make 12 lasagnes! Yes to feed 120.

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Yikes! I have to deliver a dozen lasagnes for Thursday, and I have to attend family obligations tomorrow. I cannot shop for ingredients until Wednesday morning, and it will take all day to make the ragu. I am soooooo concerned about the homemade fresh pasta sheets. I've made it, but never so much and never in so little of time frame. I've looked at sources about using egg roll wrappers as the sheets, but I get mixed reviews, and this has to be great. I know purchased fresh pasta sheets can be purchased, but not here. I am a basket case. I HAVE to do this, and I never dreamed I would have so little time. I thought, "One day do the ragu; the next day do the pasta, etc."

Help!!! I cannot do anything to reduce the time it will take me to shop, and I cannot do anything about the ragu sauce. The only tangible I have is pasta sheets, and I don't know if it can be done. I do NOT want gummy pasta. It has to taste homemade.

Anything???

Thanks!

Rhonda

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I would use the no cook pasta sheets. I've had good results with Barilla. Depending what type of cheese you'll be using, I say get shredded cheese if you can.

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Egg roll wrappers can be very, very good. But there really is such a range in lasagne styles that I'd hesitate to fully endorse them in this case. I don't know what you're going for. I'll just tell you where I'm coming from.

After reading a book by Pino Luongo, I was able to dine at Coco Pazzo Cafe in Chicago. I think this is not owned by him. I think it may have been given to his crew and continues on without his name. Someone here may know the real story.

But the 'Tuscan Lasagne' was an eye opener. I couldn't place the pasta. I even thought at some point that they might've taken a rolling pin to slices of Wonder Bread. In his book, Pino points out that pasta dishes are not pasta with sauce, but a whole which is to be taken together. You shouldn't be able to tell where the sauce ends and the pasta begins because it's an integrated whole.

I took my best shot at recreating it a couple of weeks later. Discarding the silly Wonder Bread idea, I used egg roll wrappers in a rather fussy production that came close to the original dish. It needn't be so fussy on a larger scale, although presentation may suffer. But it was basically this - some tomato sauce lube on the bottom, followed by seasoned ricotta/egg mixture, followed by some cooked ground sausage, another layer of pasta, of course. Repeat to desired height. Douse with a 50-50 mix of marinara/bechamel and heat gently but thoroughly.

It could be pretty quick. You just need to cook the egg and soften the pasta. Then it's just about the plating. I imagine it could also be steamed sans sauce which could be applied hot at plating.


Edited by IndyRob (log)

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I would use the no cook pasta sheets. I've had good results with Barilla. Depending what type of cheese you'll be using, I say get shredded cheese if you can.

I would use the fresh pasta sheets in a minute -- if I could find them. I've googled a few hours and called Whole Foods, Langenstein's and Dorignac's (the top grocers in the area), and no one has them.

As far as cheese, I'm using Fine Cooking's recipe for Beef and Pork Ragu Lasagne, and the only cheese is the Parm Regg on the topping, but it does have the classic cream sauce.

http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/beef-pork-ragu-lasagne.aspx

I love homemade pasta, but it takes me over an hour just to make enough for one dish of lasagne. Times that by 12 when I already have to shop and make the ragu the very same day, and that makes me frantic.

I need a shortcut BAD.

Rhonda

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Just to be clear: the pasta sheets that annachan is talking about are not fresh, they are dried. But they are much thinner than conventional dried lasagna, and don't need to be boiled. Cook's Illustrated does suggest soaking in hot water for a minute or two before layering: it's an improvement, but can be skipped if you don't have time.

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Just to be clear: the pasta sheets that annachan is talking about are not fresh, they are dried. But they are much thinner than conventional dried lasagna, and don't need to be boiled. Cook's Illustrated does suggest soaking in hot water for a minute or two before layering: it's an improvement, but can be skipped if you don't have time.

Thanks for the clarification. In my mind, fresh pasta sheets are a superior product I could (seemingly) find in the freezer section that's similar to the homemade pasta sheets. The dried no-boil sheets that I've found on the shelves are thicker and gummier and nowhere near fresh pasta than what I'm looking for.

Thanks

Rhonda

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If you can't get the dried no-cook sheets (and I agree with Anna on the Barilla ones), have you considered making the sheets and freezing them until needed? This might not work with your timing issues, but you could freeze them flat in the lengths you need on sheet pans, and stack them with plastic wrap/paper in between as they freeze solid. That should hold them a couple of days without problems, and you could make them in a few batches instead of all at once.

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As an added note, we have a huge Hong Kong Market, where I can buy really good frozen egg roll wrappers. I was thinking of using those, but I've read where: 1) they are terrific; or 2) they are gummy and not very good.

???

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What about a test run with pared down versions of your normal elements in a small dish, just to see how the egg roll wrappers behave? Even if you just use bechamel and drained canned tomatoes, it would at least give you an idea of how they interact.

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+1 for eggroll wrappers.

I find them superior to no-boil noodles.

When I'm in need, I head to the neighborhood Asian noodle store. He'll whip up a bunch of them, any size I want for a low low price.

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Is there a food service supplier in your region? You may be able to pick up a "cash and carry" order, if you bring payment (cash, bank card, or credit card usually). Order the veg for your ragu pre-chopped. I often order diced onions and tomatoes, to save time. It's not exactly "budget-friendly", but at least there's less stress. Also, put the ragu into a slow cooker, and then head out to get your pasta. At least the ragu won't burn/scorch, and you don't have to babysit it as much.

Wishing you lots of serene, productive energy!

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Also, is it possible to order the pasta from a local Italian restaurant?

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No restaurant supply stores or anything similar I can find because all I have is research tonight. Tomorrow I have to attend funeral of distant relative. I have to go, and want to go, but that means Wednesday is all I have (and half of Thursday). I have to shop, cook the ragu and everything Wed. I can make fresh pasta, but not that much in that time constraint. The way I see it is that either I can use the egg roll wrappers (blanch then shock in an ice-water bath or not, or are they just not desirable??) or go with the no-boil pasta from the shelf which I already know I don't like.

The other option (IF THERE IS NO OTHER GOOD OPTION) is that I drink coffee all night and make the pasta :blink:

Rhonda

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I would think egg roll wrappers would be way too small, and way too thin / not hearty enough.

I have never had a problem using dried pasta for lasagne, and in fact, I think many people prefer the texture of dried pasta for it - what exactly is your objection to simply using that. If I were making lasagne to feed 120 people, fresh pasta would probably not even enter into my thought process.

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I have tried several of the no-cook lasagna noodles and I agree that the Barilla brand is the only way to go if you are going that route. Many of the others are thick but the Barilla ones turn out really well. The ones to try are the non-curly edge ones. In your time limit, it would really reduce your stress level.

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Will, I think that many people are used to dried pasta in lasagna, but using paper thin sheets of fresh pasta really results in an incomparable product. I completely understand the OP's desire to use fresh, but it sounds like it's not feasible from a time standpoint.

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It's probably too late to see this, but from the stores you've mentioned I've gathered you are in the New Orleans area. Did you try Central Grocery in the Quarter? I know there's at least one other Italian market in the area, but there've been too many changes since I moved 10 years ago to know for sure.

I'm sorry for your loss. Today is my grandmother's funeral in Metairie, and I so wish I could be there.

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I would think egg roll wrappers would be way too small, and way too thin / not hearty enough.

Depends on the wrapper. The Asian noodle-guy here does two kinds: super thin spring rolls/wontons and rather thick egg rolls.

I don't have any here to measure, but I'd say the thick ones are a little less than 1/8" thick. Other than the wavy texture, there's little difference between the eggroll wraps and a lasagna noodle.

Best of all, I ask him to cut the pasta to hotel-pan lengths. He charges by the pound, so it doesn't cost more. Once my mise is in order, I can crank out a pan in a matter of minutes. I wouldn't even grumble about making 12 pans -- the béchamel would take more time than the noodles.

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I don't love the no boil, but my MIL has a good trick. She dips the pieces into the ragu so as to coat the whole noodle well. She also makes the ragu and the bechamel slightly thinner. It's not as good as fresh pasta but certainly good. We did it on Sunday since that's all she had and no one felt like making pasta or running to the store!

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Relax, this is totally doable. Your biggest problem will be dealing with the lack of evaporation when scaling the ragu. Ragu depends on a certain amount of evaporation to concentrate the flavors. Scaling it up 12x, you need to get rid of 12x the amount of water and evaporation along is not going to do that.

Utilize a food processor to dice your mirepoix if you're slow at prep. It will cause excessive cell damage but that's actually ok. Sautee your mirepoix until they sweat out. Then, drain them through a sieve and add just the solids back into the pan. If you're using ground meat, do the same. In a separate pan, reduce the wine/stock/veggie juices/meat juices by at least 1/2, replace half the tomato puree with tomato paste and replace the milk with 1/3rd the amount of heavy cream.

As for the pasta, freezing fresh sheets will get you what you desire. You can make the pasta the day ahead, put a sheet pan in the freezer, lined with plastic wrap. Roll out a sheet of pasta and cut it to 90% * 90% the size of the lasagna pan. Put it on the sheet pan, cover with another layer of plastic wrap and then repeat. Preferably wait ~5 minutes between laying down each sheet to let the one below it freeze.

When it comes time to serve, reheat the sauces to a simmer & layer with the frozen sheets. The heat from the sauce will defrost the sheets and they'll behave exactly like fresh.

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Am I missing something -- every eggroll wrapper I've ever bought has a coating of cornstarch on them to separate them from each other. I can't see how that would work in a lasagne...

Emily

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Am I missing something -- every eggroll wrapper I've ever bought has a coating of cornstarch on them to separate them from each other. I can't see how that would work in a lasagne...

Emily

If true (it might be flour for all I know), I haven't seen an issue from it. I don't think a little extra thickening agent would do much harm. I've done some pretty thick cornstarch/water mixtures to glaze bread crusts. Even at that level, it's not really much thicker than a marinara.

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I would love to hear how this turned out! Hope it was successful, and not too stressful.

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I use Barilla no cook Lasagna when I cater and It's a dream. I always get asked if it's handmade pasta.

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When I need to make a large quantity of ragu, I prefer to solve the evaporation problem differently, and I suspect my method has the advantage of retaining more of the flavours. In short, when it's time for evaporation, (i.e. everything is in and cooking nicely), I pass the half ready ragu through a fine sieve covered with a piece of cloth, pour a litle sauce back into the ragu and return it to the slow flame to continue coocking. The rest of the sauce I reduce to a third or quarter on a high flame, then return it to the ragu for a final short, slow cooking.

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