Ultimate Meat Lasagna with four cheeses, a homemade marinara sauce and a few quick chef tricks will make you feel like you’ve ordered lasagna at your favorite Italian Restaurant.
Ultimate Meat Lasagna has been a recipe I’ve been working on since my 7th grade home economics class. Over the years the recipe has been changed probably over a hundred times, but in the last 5 years it has not changed a single time. I finally got to a place with the recipe that I knew this was truly the Ultimate Meat Lasagna.
Some of the secrets?
- Homemade Quick and Easy Marinara may not be a real “secret” but it is going to make the biggest difference in the flavor of your lasagna. You can use most levels of quality of cheese and sort of get away with it, but use a sauce that isn’t full of delicious flavors? You’ll immediately notice the difference.
- I use all beef in this recipe, but the sausage flavor in most restaurant lasagnas is one I love duplicating. To do that easily here without using sausage, I add in some fennel seeds when browning the beef and I brown it in larger chunks. This gives the distinct sausage flavor and the larger chunks of beef help mimic the sausage texture.
- I add an egg and season my ricotta cheese. This ups the richness of it and makes it taste a little less grainy than ricotta normally does.
- When serving, I let the lasagna cool for usually a half an hour, cut the slice, top with additional marinara, additional cheese and brown in a 425 degree oven until browned and bubbly. You can of course skip this step, but this really makes each slice feel like their own “order” with its own set of bubbly cheese and overflowing with marinara sauce.
Ultimate Meat Lasagna
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 cups Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley , divided
- 1 box lasagna noodles , I use flat no boil Barrilla noodles
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 pound Provolone cheese , sliced
- 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese , sliced
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large pot, brown the beef in one large piece until it is browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes.
Break apart the beef into slightly larger chunks.
Cook until the beef is browned and add in the basil, oregano, 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, and fennel seeds.
Stir until you start to smell the fennel seeds starting to toast.
Drain the fat and add in the marinara sauce.
In your ricotta container if you have space add the egg and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and mix well.
To make the lasagna:
Add your no boil noodles to the meat sauce, we are not looking to cook them, just coat them in the sauce to ensure they don't get dry in the oven.
Add the dried no boil noodles in an even layer, for me it was 5 noodles per layer, four across and one broken in half lengthwise to go down the side of the pan.
Add 1/3 the provolone slices, another 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, 1/3 of the mozzarella, 1/3 of the parmesan and 1/3 of the ricotta in spoonfuls dotting across the pan.
Add another layer of noodles over it.
Repeat with the same cheese/meat sauce process, another layer of noodles and for the final round of filling add the meat sauce, ricotta and provolone but save the Parmesan and mozzarella for the top of the lasagna.
Finally, add a top layer of lasagna noodles and cover with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.
Cover your baking pan with foil in a tented way, so that the cheese doesn't stick to the foil.
Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional ten minutes to brown the cheese.
Let cool for 20-25 minutes.
Optionally, you can add additional marinara sauce and cheese to a cut portion and brown in a 425 degree oven just before serving so each plate has a crispy cheese topping and extra sauce.