Sunday, October 10, 2010

Michael Symon's Mom's "Bellybuster" Lasagna

This lasagna is definitely a bellybuster! In total there is four pounds of meat, three pounds of cheese, one pound of lasagna noodles, as well as some other seasonings and flavorings. This recipe for lasagna was the recipe that Michael Symon grew up eating every Wednesday night, his Mom's recipe.

Michael says that he could smell the lasagna baking from houses away and I believe it. It was a cool day when I made this lasagna and I had all the windows open. My daughter and her friends were playing outside. Once the meat hit the pan and began to sizzle there were two ten year old boys standing at my window. I had to laugh. I always knew that most men loved meat. I guess I just didn't know that it started at such an early age.

Michael says "You could smell the lasagna baking houses away, and Wednesday was the only night of the week that I was more than happy to come in from outside and be early for dinner."

Mom's Lasagna
Serves 8 (easily serves 10 to 12)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt
1 pound pork neck bones (**note below)
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground beef
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, loose or removed from the casing
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chopped peeled tomatoes, or 1 28-ounce can San Marzano, with their juice
3 bay leaves
1 pound dried lasagna noodles
2 pounds whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 large eggs
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a three-finger pinch of salt and sweat them until they're translucent, 2 minutes. Add the neck bones and brown them, about 5 minutes. Add the ground veal and beef and sausage, season with another healthy pinch of salt, and continue cooking until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Add the white wine, tomatoes and their juice, and the bay leaves, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, making sure to get all of the browned bits into the sauce. Season the sauce with the salt and simmer for 2 hours over medium heat. Remove the bay leaves and neck bones and let cool. Skim any fat that rises to the surface.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt so that it tastes seasoned and allow the water to return to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain well and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, parsley, basil, oregano, and eggs with a pinch of salt.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a lasagna pan 9X13 inches is optimal - ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom. Arrange a layer of noodles on this followed by a layer of sauce and then some of the ricotta mixture, smoothing it with a spatula to the edges. Repeat the process until the pan is full. Finish with a final layer of noodles, sauce, the mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

I served the lasagna with a green salad and Michael's Red Wine Vinaigrette.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
Makes About 1-1/2 cups
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped toasted almonds (optional)
1 teaspoon diced seeded fresno chile pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons sliced fresh mint (optional)
Combine the shallot, garlic, vinegar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in a few drops of the oil and then begin adding the oil in a thin stream, whisking continuously. After all the oil has been incorporated, whisk in any optional ingredients you may be using.

The lasagna received rave reviews. My husband was more than pleased with this meaty version and declared it delicious. You could really taste both the flavors from the beef, as well as the pork. This is not a super saucy lasagna. Since the meat and tomato mixture simmers for 2 hours most of the tomato sauce cooks out. We enjoyed this most served on tomato sauce or with extra tomato sauce poured on top. Michael's Red Wine Vinaigrette and a green salad was the perfect accompaniment.

This brings me to my question regarding pork neck bones. Have any of you ever cooked with them? If so, what did you think?

I chose Michael's lasagna recipe because I was curious about using pork neck bones. I didn't anticipate any issues with them, but found that the bones splintered off into several small pieces after simmering for 2 hours. Does anyone know if this is a common problem when using pork neck bones?

I am submitting this to Symon Sundays hosted by Ashlee of Veggie By Season.

I am also submitting this to Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen
in celebration of her Cookbook Sundays event.


  1. That is definitely a hearty lasagna. It would make an excellent dinner.

  2. Well, you know how I felt about the pork neck bones - no way jose! And I'm so sorry you had such a trying experience with them!

    Kudos to you for going with the full recipe. If I had any time to date anyone right now, I would consider making this with my door open to try to reel in guys off the street. It really was delicious.

  3. Oooh that sounds fab :). And you know, if you call it a belly buster, then its kind of like you are offering me a challenge that I can not resist LOL.
    *kisses* HH

  4. What a BIG hunk of delicious! I always love it when I get a whiff of food coming from inside somebody else's house when I walk by or am outside. It's so comforting and mysterious!

  5. It looks great to me, Kim, but like you noted, it is not particularly saucy. I would have preferred extra sauce like you added. Nice touch.

  6. I think I would make extra sauce - I do confess that all that meat and cheese would please my family! I almost always use pork neck bones - I find they add tremendous flavor - and of course that is what my mother, grandmother and aunts all did. However - they were very fussy about the neck bones they bought - very fussy!

  7. YUM! This looks like a serious meal! I think I will book mark it for this winter when I am hidden under layers of clothes!

  8. Those layers came out just perfect. And you're killing me with all that wonderful cheese!

  9. Yummmmm! Your pictures are gorgeous! I love the story about the kids, too cute :)

  10. Wow--that is some lasagna! I love all those layers--no wonder it is the "bellybuster." ;-) Gorgeous!

  11. Love the image of the boys standing at your window. Too cute!

    I saw MS make lasgana w/ Paula Deen recently and I think it was this recipe. While watching all that meat go into the lasagna, all I could think was "oh my goodness." In a good way, of course.

    Now and then I use neck bones in red beans and rice (my preference is smoked ham hocks though). Sometimes the neck bones have splintered, but not always.

    I wonder if something like spare ribs would work for this lasagna?

  12. The two boys at your window is so funny! Did you give them a taste of your lasagna? I'd be beating down your door for it. That is the 'highest' lasagna I've ever seen! And it looks insanely good.

  13. Now that's a lasagna! This would certainly serve an army and it definitely would be loved by my 3 men :o) I've never cooked with the neck bones but my mom does and sometimes they splinter and sometimes they don't. Great looking recipe, I'm surprised Chef Symon isn't any bigger after eating this every Wednesday LOL

  14. OMG! All the men would come running for this.

  15. Just got back from a week away and was catching up on my blogs. To answer your question about cooking with neck bones: I wouldn't dream of making a Sunday gravy without them. I've never had them splinter, as you describe it, though one does need to be careful of the odd splinter that can land in your gravy. The flavor they impart, however, is unobtainable with anything else. I must confess that I love to steal a few just to suck the meat from. I have 6 bags of a crockpot Sunday gravy recipe I tried recently. It isn't as good as the family recipe, but it's pretty darn tasty. Neckbones were an ingredient. Harder to find, but also wonderful for flavoring Sunday gravy, are veal neckbones.

  16. What a great dish for company.. sure to please all.. Wow, 8 pounds of food in one dish..

    Looks delicious.. missed reading your posts, Kim!

  17. Good grief woman! That is one amazing, delicious-looking, I want a piece right now lasagna. Wow!! All that wonderful meat and cheese. I could make this and have my work lunch all set for 2 weeks. :o) What a fabulous lasagna. Thanks so much for linking up to Cookbook Sundays Kim! Have a great day.

  18. Oh my! What a great lasagna! I'm sure it smelled just wonderful coming from the oven ;)

  19. I've got a great lasagna recipe that I've made and shared for years, and this one looks like it's got my recipe beat! I've got to try it!

  20. Yum, looks great! I agree, a little drier than the norm but great flavour. (Maybe a bechamel...) ☺

  21. I just made this today-- with homemade lasagna noodles! (real proud of myself :) I have never made any kind of noodle before... unless it came in a box!) We really enjoyed this and will def make it again, but I agree-- it doesn't have as much sauce as I'm used to. I think I will use your recommendations and make the extra sauce next time. Thanks for sharing!

  22. "[Chef] Michael Symon, [former State Senator] Nina Turner, and [Artist] Marc Breed, are the faces defining the New Cleveland."

    -Michael Rappaport, Wall Street Journal


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