Friday, 8 July 2011

Lasagnetta al ragù di faraona – Guinea fowl lasagne

-a speciality of Vicolo Colombina, Bologna

We were so taken by this dish when we ate it last month in Bologna that we had to have the recipe immediately. Gianni Fruzzetti, the co-owner and sommelier, complied explaining,

‘We wanted to test the frontiers of the traditional approach, and this dish does that. For a start, it uses guinea fowl instead of beef or pork; there are just three layers, so it’s very flat compared with traditional lasagne. And it doesn’t use béchamel sauce. It’s an express dish, that takes just ten minutes, and it’s more digestible than the traditional version.’
Gianni Fruzetti - departing from tradition

Basically, you roast the bird, take it off the bone and shred it, and add it to a traditional ragu base – the battuto – of onion, carrot, celery, garlic – and then cook the sauce long and slow. In the restaurant kitchen, when the order comes through, they cook the lasagne sheets quickly, add sauce, grated parmesan and a kind of sauce made by mixing finely grated parmesan and water. The dish is placed under the grill to brown and then it’s ready. The recipe below is adapted for home cooking.

Another bird that could stand up to the long slow cook is duck, but don’t substitute chicken.

Enough for 4


1 guinea fowl

5tbl olive oil

30g butter

salt and pepper

6 bay leaves

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

3 sticks celery

2 carrots

4 slices smoked bacon

150ml passata

125ml white wine

100g grated parmesan

175ml warm water

16 sheets of lasagne


1. Season the guinea fowl all over with salt and pepper and place in a roasting bag along with half the butter and half the olive oil plus the bay leaves. Put the roasting bag in a roasting tray and place in a re-heated oven at 170 degrees for 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion finely chopped and gently fry over medium heat for about 7 minutes until soft and beginning to brown.

3. Add the finely chopped celery, carrots and garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes.

4. Add the bacon cut into small cubes and cook until it begins to brown.

5. Pour in the wine, raise the heat to drive off the alcohol, then add the passata and stir thoroughly.

6. Remove the guinea fowl from the roasting bag, conserving the juices and adding them to the saucepan. Remove the flesh, discarding skin, ligaments and bone, and chop it into small cubes. Add it to the saucepan

7. Bring the saucepan to the boil, and then lower the heat and cook, uncovered, at a lazy simmer, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface, for 3 hours or more.

8. Prepare the parmesan ‘sauce’ by processing 50g of parmesan and the water to create a creamy consistency.

9. Cook the lasagne until it is al dente, strain and lay out on a clean tea towel.

10. Grease an oven-proof dish with a spot of olive oil then place a layer of lasagne in the bottom. Spread over this some sauce then some of the parmesan. Create three layers of pasta and sauce, finishing by spreading the parmesan cream across the top together with some of the grated parmesan.

11. Place in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes until it is browning and bubbling.

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