Kitchen fails. We’ve all experienced them. They are a right of passage in the cooking world, unfortunately. I know I’ve had my fair share!
This lasagna was almost a fail. Not because the flavors weren’t AWESOME (because they so were). Rather, I almost burnt it to a crisp. See that cheese crust on top? Yeah, it’s a little darker than I wanted it to be. We can thank my postpartum brain and baby preoccupation for that. I totally put this in the oven and forgot all about it. It wasn’t until the smell of crispy (burnt) cheese started wafting through the house that I realized what I had done and made a mad dash to the oven, sleeping baby in tow.
Good thing I got to the oven when I did. Another 5 minutes and this may not have been salvageable. I would have been pissed if that was the case. This lasagna took some WORK…like, the long couple hours of braising the short ribs before the lasagna assembly even began! Any time I have without the baby crying/eating/needing a diaper change is PRECIOUS. I spent that precious time making this lasagna. Trust me, major meltdowns were in the forecast if I had messed it up. Yes, meltdowns. Plural on purpose.
After all was said and done, however, I am kinda glad I left this in the oven for 20 minutes too long. The charred cheese on top was actually super delicious! If burnt cheese is not your thing, though, just cook the darn thing according to the recipe below and you should be all good. Set those oven timers, people!
This lasagna is kind of high maintenance. It requires the time (and patience) to braise the beef until tender, a sauce to be whisked together, and a massive amount of cheese to be grated. It’s definitely a “make-this-on-a-slow-weekend” type of dish. I won’t sugar coat things. But I also won’t hesitate to tell you how incredible this lasagna was! Totally worth the extra time, effort, and oven panic. We’ve got slowly braised red wine beef (OMG), loads of cheese (OMG OMG), and a creamy tomato cheese sauce (OMG OMG OMG) for layering. It’s a stunner of a recipe and one that I plan on making time and time again.
I’ll just make sure to set my oven timer next time. I’d like to know how this tastes without the burnt spots on top. Hah.
Cheesy Short Rib Lasagna (makes 6 servings)
For the Short Ribs:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs beef short ribs
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
For the Filling:
1 (15-oz) container ricotta cheese
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 (10-oz) box frozen spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, grated or very finely minced
The shredded short rib meat
Salt and pepper
For the Sauce:
2 cups half-and-half
1½ cups grated pecorino romano cheese
1 cup shredded fontina cheese (or mozzarella)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1½ cups marinara sauce (I used my favorite store-bought kind, but you can definitely make your own if you’re a sauce purist)
Salt and pepper
No-boil lasagna noodles (I used my old standby)
3 cups shredded fontina cheese (or mozzarella)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil, for drizzling on top
For the Ribs:
1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Brown the short ribs on all sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove from pot and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium.
2. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and herbs and cook for another minute. Deglaze the pot with the wine, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom. Add the beef broth and sugar. Bring to a simmer.
3. Return the short ribs to the pot, cover, and simmer over low heat for 2½-3 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling apart. Remove the meat from the pot, allow to cool, and then shred the beef using two forks or your hands.
4. Meanwhile, keep simmering the braising liquid until it is thick and reduced. Toss the shredded meat in about ¾ cup of the liquid (it should be well coated but not super wet – use as much liquid as needed to achieve this).
For the Filling:
Combine the ricotta and pecorino cheeses in a medium bowl. Add in the spinach, nutmeg, and garlic and stir to combine. Fold in the shredded short rib meat and stir to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
For the Sauce:
In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the cheeses, stirring until smooth. Whisk in the marinara sauce and check for seasoning. Remove the sauce from heat.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with a layer of the lasagna noodles. Top the noodles with a layer of the ricotta-meat filling, then with roughly a third of the grated fontina and parmesan cheeses, and then top that with roughly ⅓ cup of the creamy marinara sauce. Top with another layer of noodles and continue the layering two more times. Finish the lasagna with a layer of noodles, a drizzle of sauce, and a handful of the grated cheeses.
2. Drizzle the top with olive oil, wrap the baking dish lightly in tin foil, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan before cutting and serving.
Oh man, I made a lasagna today and can totally relate…I would be *so* upset if such a labor-intensive dish was ruined in some way. I’m glad yours avoided being a kitchen-tastrophe. It looks absolutely delicious!!
Thanks so much! I’m glad it worked out, too. I don’t know if my sleep-deprived self could handle it.
Molly, you’re my absolute favorite food blog. I wanted to make this recipe for over a year, and the minute I moved out and got my own kitchen, I made this and fell in LOVE. The short ribs almost didn’t make it in the lasagna they were so good! It was a perfect dinner for a cool fall night in Chicago on the back porch. Thanks for posting this!
Aww, thanks so much, Alexis! Your words warm my heart. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoy the blog…and enjoyed the lasagna! Thanks for reading!