Making Christmas Day Lasagna

Category Lasagna
This lasagna is perfect for family gatherings such as Christmas or other special occasions. With 2 pounds of meat and four cheeses this is a hearty dish that although quite filling often finds guests asking for seconds.
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This is a full-fat, high octane lasagna, so if you're looking for low-fat or diet, better skip this one. This was originally my mother-in-law's recipe, but I've tweaked it through the years and made it my own.

I only make it once a year to serve on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I make it a day or two ahead, because lasagna is always better the next day. That way, all I have to do before serving it is warm it up. I serve it with salad and rolls.

We had our in-laws over for Christmas Eve supper a few years ago, and my father-in-law was raving about my lasagna. I told my mother-in-law that it had started out with her recipe, but I tweaked it over the years. Hers called for a pound of ground meat, while I use two pounds now. She uses cottage cheese, but we really like ricotta. I don't spend hours making the sauce, but use a good spaghetti sauce, and I don't cook the noodles, using oven-ready instead.

You can change things up to suit your family's tastes, too. This is very rich, so start people out with small servings, but don't be surprised if they ask for more. We've served as many as 8 people, and still had leftovers, though they don't last long around my house.

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb hamburger meat, browned and drained
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, your choice (I prefer the kind that don't need boiling first)
  • 2 pt spaghetti sauce, 1 1/2 to 2 regular jars, your choice
  • 1 tsp seasonings: garlic, oregano, salt, pepper (optional, depending on sauce)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 8 oz swiss cheese, grated
  • 8-12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup grated Parmesan for topping

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
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  3. You can make your own sauce if desired, but we like Classico tomato and basil spaghetti sauce. I use one jar and about half of another one.
  4. Brown and drain hamburger meat. Use a really large skillet or even a stock pot to prepare the meat and sauce.
  5. If you're using noodles that must be boiled, start cooking them. We like the oven-ready kind. It takes about four of them for each of the 3 layers.
  6. Add spaghetti sauce to meat and simmer 10-20 minutes. Depending on the type of sauce you use, add seasonings to taste. Add a little water if sauce is too thick. I've found that the sauce I use doesn't need any extra seasonings, but that's up to individual tastes.
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  8. Grate cheddar and swiss cheese. I use a butter-pat cutter and cut cheese into tiny cubes because it's faster. Combine these two cheeses. You'll spoon the ricotta over the cheeses when layering.
  9. Divide meat into three portions (doesn't have to be exact).
  10. Divide cheese into two portions (again, approximately).
  11. In lasagna or casserole dish, layer lasagna noodles, one portion of meat, and half the cheese. Drop half the ricotta over the cheese and spread with spoon. Don't worry if it's not exact. It will all melt together. Ricotta is very rich, so you may want to go easy on using more than 8 oz*.
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  13. Repeat above layer, noodles, meat, cheese.
  14. One more noodle layer, last portion of meat, and sprinkle parmesan over last layer of meat.
  15. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. Let cool, and chill several hours or overnight.
  16. Reheat at 300-350F for 20 minutes or so until it's hot.

*I've made ricotta cookies with the leftover cheese, and it's good in omelettes.

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