Today is a blustery day in New York and I wanted to make something warm and filling. I remembered this recipe from Pati’s Kitchen and decided to try it out.
Following her recipe with a few changes.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound Mexican chorizo casings removed, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large red onion finely chopped
8 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 green bell pepper finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
5 tablespoons Mexican achiote paste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 sprigs of fresh oregano
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
4 cups homemade chicken broth or store-bought, divided
1 can light beer
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 pound lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 packages of Mexican style four cheese from Kraft (she calls for 3 cups of Edam cheese grated)
Heat oil in a casserole over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and beef and cook for 6 to 7 minutes until it starts to brown. Make room in the middle, add onion, garlic and bell pepper, and cook for 9 to 10 minutes until vegetables have completely softened, juices have all been absorbed, and meat has browned further.
Meanwhile, in a blender, purée orange juice, lime juice, achiote paste, tomato paste, oregano, salt and a cup of the chicken broth, until completely smooth.
Pour beer into the casserole with the meat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until it starts cooking off. Reduce heat to medium and pour in the achiote paste mixture. Stir and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until sauce is very thick. Add crushed tomatoes and the rest of the chicken broth, mix very well, reduce heat to lowest possible setting and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, uncover, raise heat to medium heat and cook for 20 more minutes, then turn off heat.
Place rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook 1 pound of lasagna noodles in salted water with a splash of olive oil until al dente. Drain. (I used oven ready lasagna noodles). Let lasagna rest for about 30 minutes so that the noodles absorb liquid.
Coat the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with about one cup of meat sauce. Drape pasta sheets, covering bottom of the pan entirely. Cover with about 1/3 of the remaining sauce, then add 1/3 of the ricotta cheese in dollops all spread out. Cover with more draped pasta, repeat with 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the ricotta cheese. Repeat one more time and add the Edam cheese on top.
Lightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and leave in the oven for another 20 minutes, until cheese is completely melted, crisp and browned and lasagna is completely set.
Any sauce left: heat and serve on side
The smokey taste of the Mexican achiote paste and spiciness of the Mexican chorizo is just a beautiful blend of flavors.