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Short Rib Lasagne

A bit time-consuming, but makeable in stages and in advance, this lasagne from bonappetit.com is phenomenal. Make it for a special occasion ~ it serves at least 12 people.

Short Rib Sauce
5 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 T. chopped fresh thyme
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 c. boiling water
4 pounds meaty beef short ribs
1 c. all purpose flour
4 T. olive oil, divided
4 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 c. ruby Port
2 c. dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel)
2 1/2 c. low-salt beef broth
6 garlic cloves, peeled

Tie all herb sprigs and bay leaf in cheesecloth for bouquet garni; trim excess cheesecloth. Set bouquet garni aside. Place mushrooms in heatproof bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water; cover and let stand until mushrooms soften, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to work surface; chop. Reserve mushroom soaking liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325°F. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Place flour in medium bowl. Dredge ribs in flour, shaking off excess; place on rimmed baking sheet. Reserve flour. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook ribs until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch. Return ribs to baking sheet.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion; cook until softened, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in chopped mushrooms. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon reserved flour over vegetables (discard remaining flour). Add tomato paste; stir until tomato paste begins to brown on bottom of pot, about 1 minute. Add Port and stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Add red wine. Pour in reserved mushroom soaking liquid, leaving any sediment behind. Bring to boil; simmer until reduced by about 1/3, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add broth, garlic, and bouquet garni. Return to boil. Return ribs to pot, arranging meat side down in single layer. Cover pot; place in oven and braise ribs until very tender, about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.

Using tongs, transfer ribs from pot to rimmed baking sheet to cool. Discard bouquet garni. Shred beef; discard bones. Spoon off fat from top of sauce in pot; discard fat. Boil sauce until reduced to 5 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Return meat to sauce. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped thyme. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Lasagna
5 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. all purpose flour
3 c. whole milk
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
18 5 3/4×3 1/2-inch sheets no-bake lasagna noodles. (I never need this many sheets – I use about 12 sheets of Barilla La Collezione Lasagne all’Uovo)

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; whisk until smooth. Cook until light golden brown, whisking frequently, about 6 minutes. Add milk; bring to boil, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute. Add nutmeg. Season béchamel to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Spoon 1 cup meat sauce over bottom of dish; spread in thin layer. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over. Arrange lasagna noodles over to cover (noodles may overlap slightly). Drizzle 1 cup béchamel over noodles, spreading in even layer; sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over. Spread 2 cups meat sauce over. Repeat with noodles, béchamel, cheese, and meat sauce. Cover with remaining noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over noodles. Sprinkle remaining cheese over.

Bake lasagna uncovered until edges are bubbling and top is golden brown in spots, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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