Northern-Style Lasagna

This is the classic lasagna of northern Italy: lasagna noodles separated by layers of full-flavored meat sauce, rich béchamel sauce, and a blend of cheeses. Here dried porcini mushrooms give additional flavor to the meat sauce without much effort.
Meat Sauce
1⁄2 cup boiling water
1⁄2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1⁄2 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion (12 ounces), chopped
8 ounces lean (90%) ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground veal
1⁄2 cup dry red wine
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Béchamel Sauce
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
21⁄2 cups milk
Cheese Filling
8 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 package (8 to 9 ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles (61⁄2” by 31⁄2” each)

1. Prepare meat sauce: In small bowl, pour boiling water over porcini mushrooms; let stand 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add garlic, carrots, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add beef, pork, and veal and cook, breaking up meat with side of spoon, until meat is browned, about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, with slotted spoon, remove porcini, reserving liquid. Rinse mushrooms to remove any grit, then coarsely chop. Strain mushroom liquid through sieve lined with paper towels; set aside.
4. Add wine to meat in skillet and heat to boiling; boil until most of liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, salt, mushrooms, and reserved soaking liquid; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens slightly, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Meanwhile, prepare béchamel sauce: In nonreactive 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. With wire whisk, stir in flour, pepper, salt, and nutmeg and cook 1 minute. Whisking continuously, gradually add milk and heat to boiling. Remove saucepan from heat; set aside.
6. Prepare filling: In small bowl, toss Fontina and Parmesan until well combined.
7. Assemble lasagna: In bottom of 13" by 9" baking dish, evenly spread 1 cup meat sauce. Arrange 4 noodles over sauce, overlapping slightly to fit and making sure they do not touch sides of dish. (If your package of lasagna noodles has only 12 noodles, use 3 noodles per layer and do not overlap them.) Spoon about 11⁄2 cups meat sauce over noodles. Spread about 2⁄3 cup béchamel sauce over meat sauce and sprinkle with about 1⁄2 cup cheese filling. Repeat layering 3 more times with remaining noodles, meat sauce, béchamel sauce, and cheese.
8. Cover lasagna with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until heated through and cheese is lightly browned, about 20 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes for easier serving. Makes 10 main-dish servings.


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