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Oklahoma City chef helps columnist find easier way to make lasagna

Oklahoma City Chef Chris Becker works with Sherrel Jones to find an easier way to make lasagna instead of the traditional time-consuming, labor-intensive recipe.
BY SHERREL JONES Published: October 17, 2012
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I found J.C. Potter's lite sausage to be quite lean and still have plenty of seasoning for us. I wrapped a rubber spatula in a dry paper towel and stirred the sausage to absorb any excess fat as it browned then discarded the towel once it became soaked.

The biggest surprise to me in Becker's recommendation was using so few layers of pasta noodles (only three or four) and in not boiling them. Wow! I hoped that worked. He sent me away with a stack of his dried noodles to try. To my delight, they worked very well and fit into a couple of different-size dishes — a large oval but shallow casserole dish, and the smaller but deeper 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch Pyrex dishes I use for making brownies.

“Just break them apart to fit,” he said. “Push them down into the sauce then cover them with more sauce.”

The layers and sauce ended up being about an inch away from the edges of my baking dish. As it baked and the cheeses, pasta and sauce melded together, it filled in the space and had plenty of room to bubble up without running over into the oven. This roomy assembly method will save the extra time it might take to clean up an oven spill.

The version we made used buffalo-style mozzarella sliced as thin as possible. The Della Terra lasagna flats were thin but softened beautifully in the bath of meaty sauce. I think of the lasagna I've made over the years, sometimes even involving our children in turning the crank of the pasta roller to make thick egg-infused noodles for our time-hogging kitchen sink versions of this dish.

I loved this straightforward version Becker proposed. The process was so simple, and the result was elegant and heavenly. It was perfectly suited for our empty nest needs and full of that unmatched Italian comfort we find among the layers of this dish. Gosh, this is good!