Best Lasagna & Hearty Tomato Meat Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 med onion chopped
2 lb sweet Italian sausage (- casings)
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup milk
1 lg jar Ragu (2 lb. 13 oz.) brand ragu
1½ tbsp dried oregano &/or basil
15 oz Whole Milk Ricotta cheese (1 3/4 cups)
12 oz grated parmesan cheese (1 1/4 cups)
1 lg egg, beaten
1 lb whole milk mozzarella, grated (4 cups)
12 whole lasagna noodles, uncooked
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes; add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes; add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ground meats, salt, and pepper; cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until meat loses its raw color but has not browned. Add milk and butter and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes. Add ragu [or instead of ragu: 1 can (28 ounces) pureed tomatoes and 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained)] and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended, about 3 minutes; set sauce aside. (Sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for 2 days; reheat before assembling lasagna.)
Mix ricotta and 1 cup of the Parmesan, oregano &/or basil, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper together in medium bowl with fork until creamy; set aside.
Smear entire bottom of 13 by 9-inch deep baking dish with 1/4 cup meat sauce (avoiding large chunks of meat). Place 3 noodles in baking dish to create first layer. Drop ~ 5 tablespoons ricotta mixture down center of each noodle and level domed mounds by pressing with back side of measuring spoon. Sprinkle layer evenly with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce evenly over cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and sauce two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top of sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella, then with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna.
Bake 30 minutes, then remove foil. Return lasagna to oven and continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes longer. Cool lasagna about 10 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.
[The assembled - in the dish - unbaked lasagna, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil will keep in the freezer for up to 1 to 2 months. To bake, defrost it in the refrigerator for a day or two and bake as directed, extending the baking time by about 5 minutes.]