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I have a made a number of meat lasagne's that taste great (IMHO) but I have always had a problem getting them to preserve that "layered" effect. When it is cooked and even partially cooled the first slice out of the pan and it practically turns to goulash.

I would love some advise on this.

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Can you specify the order of the layers if you make lasagne? –  Mien May 29 '11 at 16:47
    
Last night it was Pasta, Mozzerella, Cheddar, Meat Sauce, Ricotta, Repeat All, Pasta on top. –  Cos Callis May 29 '11 at 16:54
    
Bet your meat sauce is on the damp side. If you want the layers, the whole dish needs to be drier, so it'll hold up. –  Satanicpuppy May 30 '11 at 1:03
    
actually I tighten up pretty well, though maybe it does need to be thicker. Thanks for the input. –  Cos Callis May 30 '11 at 1:13
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this answer has some good pointers. for me, letting the lasagne 'rest' really helps with solidifying and helps maintain the effect you want when you slice into it. –  Sam Holder May 30 '11 at 8:03
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've always done a layer of bechamel, pasta, meat, pasta, meat, pasta, meat, pasta, bechamel, cheeses (mozzarella and parmesan, from bottom to top). If you put the cheese in the middle the liquid in it (especially in the mozzarella) won't evaporate and you will have sloppy lasagne.

The other factor is the liquidity of your sauce - a thicker, meatier sauce is better for lasagne so it keeps its shape.

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thanks for these pointers! –  Cos Callis May 30 '11 at 1:16
    
No problem. FYI, I bake the lasagne with a foil lid for 40 minutes, then take the foil off for the final 20 so the cheese can crisp and turn golden. –  ElendilTheTall May 30 '11 at 8:01
    
How thick do you make your white sauce? I've never had a problem with it in the middle, but I make it quite thick for the lasagne (but thinner as a sauce on the side), and let the lasagne rest for at least 30-45 min after baking so it sets back up again. –  Joe May 31 '11 at 2:40
    
Quite thick. I just feel it gets lost when you put it in the middle. As long as you don't put the cheese in the middle though, the exact order isn't important I think. –  ElendilTheTall May 31 '11 at 7:25
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There are several factors in this, in my experience.

  • Thickness of the sauce. If your sauce is too watery, then the pasta layers will soak up too much liquid and have less structural integrity. This is the obvious issue.
  • Thickness of the layering. A layer of pasta can only hold so much weight. A layer of sauce about half an inch deep is usually the limit. This isn't an exact measurement though, merely experience.
  • Unemulsified fat. When you add things like Mozzarella and Cheddar, they melt and release lots of fat. This will get soaked up by the pasta, making it a little "gooey". These cheeses generally stay on the top, where the water can evaporate and the fat can brown nicely in the air above it.
  • Space between the pasta leaves. The pasta shouldn't have any spacing between leaves, as this allows a lot of shifting in the baking tray. I generally set it up with quite a bit of overlap (about 3/4 of an inch). This way the two leaves can combine in certain places, giving a thicker layer of pasta, and no spacing can form.
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