Wednesday, August 14, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Spanish Lasagna

© Constantine William Spyrou

A lot of my recipe ideas come from fusion of multiple cuisines. In order to accomplish this, you have to look at what flavors go together really well from different cuisines to merge them and create a successful dish. Probably the easiest cuisine to fuse in my opinion is Thai food. This is because it has a full-flavor spectrum, with each dish's goal being to attain the perfect balance of all 5 flavors of sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and tangy. Because of that, you can match up almost any cuisine to Thai food. 

Thai food isn't the only easily fusible cuisine, however. I find that Italian cuisine goes well with a lot of other different flavors because it has a lot of different flavor profiles as well. Italian foods tend to have a lot of sweet, salty, and savory notes to it, and have quite a few sour dishes as well, making it able to pair up with a lot of other cuisines as well. Italian food can especially blend well with cuisines in the European area. 

One such cuisine that I found that pairs well with Italian food is Spanish food. Spanish food is very flavored in savory, salty, and spicy areas. These pair very well with the sweet notes of Italian food and tomato sauce as well as the matchup of savory and salty to make great combinations. This Spanish lasagna's goal is to showcase how well Italian and Spanish food can blend together. 

The lasagna itself will have three different layers, each with Italian marinara sauce made from scratch and a blend of Italian and Spanish Cheese to really amp up the flavors from both cuisines. The layers will be all foods from Spanish cuisine: Albondigas (or meatballs), Chorizo (spicy pork sausage), and Serrano Ham (a spicy cured ham). The flavors from these three meats will go great with the tomato sauce and the cheese. Garnished with Spanish chicharron (fried pork skins), this should be a real treat! 

Recipe makes 1 lasagna that can serve up to 12 people.

Lasagna Base Ingredients:

12 cooked lasagna sheets, cooked and cooled
2 cups shaved Parmesan Cheese
2 cups grated Manchego Cheese
4 cups crushed or pureed tomatoes
4 minced cloves of garlic
1/4 cup dried basil
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to season (for the tomato sauce)
1 cup crushed Chicarron (fried pork rinds, you can find them in markets. If you can only find pork rinds, make sure they are dehydrated completely then cut them up and fry them until they puff up and are crispy, then crush into small pieces)

Lasagna Layer Ingredients:

1 pound chopped Serrano Ham
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup breadcrumbs soaked with 2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 pound ground pork
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to season


1. In separate mixing bowls, make the albondigas mixture, the chorizo mixture, and the marinara mixture using the appropriate spices from the above recipes. The marinara does not need to be cooked, just mix it well and set aside.
2. Form meatballs from the Albondigas mixture, and bake in a 375 degree oven in a water bath for 40 minutes. Let the meatballs cool, then chop them up.
3. Cook the chorizo in a hot pan with some olive oil for about 10 minutes or until fully cooked. Cool and set aside.
4. Preheat your convection oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large, deep baking dish, layer the bottom with three of the cooked lasagna sheets. Add 1 cup of the marinara sauce, 1 cup of blended Manchego and Parmesan cheese, and all of the Serrano ham.
5. Layer with the next three lasagna sheets and another cup of the marinara as well as another cup of the blended cheeses. Add the chopped albondigas to this layer, then cover with three more lasagna sheets.
6. This next layer gets marinara and the blended cheese again (1 cup of each) as well as the chorizo. Top with the final three lasagna sheets. Add the final cup of marinara sauce. Over this, add the crushed chicharron, and cover with the remaining cheese.
7. Bake in the oven for an hour, let cool, and serve.

This dish really goes for those varying flavors of salty from the serrano ham, savory from the meatballs, spicy from the chorizo, sweet from the marinara, and a layer of crunch and fat from the chicharron. The mix of the Parmesan and Manchego cheese just takes the flavor up another notch.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change! If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

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