Comfort Food: Pepperoni Lasagna
A large pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage… A crock pot full of meaty spaghetti sauce… A casserole pan of lasagna…
No, this isn’t Super Password, but I bet I got your mouth watering, didn’t I??? Now, how would you like to combine all three of these into one dish? Well, I did just that with my Pepperoni Lasagna that I made recently and here’s how I did it…
My process is a three (plus) day process because I like to give the flavor profile time to emerge but you can make this in one day if you like. I start the night before Day 1 (see below) and mix my low sodium spaghetti sauce in the crock pot and put it in the fridge overnight.
Day 1: I set the sauce to cook on low in the crock pot all day. While it is cooling down the night of Day 1, I bake the pepperoni. I place the baked pepperoni’s on a paper towel on a paper plate and put the plate and all in a gallon baggie in the fridge so the paper towel can continue to soak up some of the excess grease out of the pepperoni overnight. Once the crock pot has cooled enough, I place it in the fridge.
Day 2: I leave the crock pot of sauce in the fridge all day. That’s an easy step, right? Most of you have had leftover spaghetti and realize that it is always better the next day. This is the reason I let the sauce sit for 24 hours. I like to let the flavors meld into each other. In the evening of Day 2, I layer the lasagna in a 9″ x 13″ glass dish; I like to see the layers when I’m done. I use ‘oven-ready’ pasta, to cut out the boiling step, and three types of cheese: mozzarella, shredded Italian blend, and parmesan. You can use whatever cheeses you and your family like. I layer mine in the following order but you can layer yours as you wish: meat sauce, mozzarella, shredded Italian blend, parmesan, Italian Seasoning, pepperoni, pasta, repeat. Once I have the lasagna layered, I cover it in plastic wrap and place it back in the fridge overnight.
Day 3: About an hour before I’m ready to serve, I take the lasagna out of the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and place it directly in a cold oven. I put a sheet pan on the rack below it in case it boils over. At this point, I turn on the oven and set it to 350˚ to let the dish warm as the oven warms to avoid the glass shattering.
TIP: NEVER place cold cooking vessels in a hot oven. Not only is the food destroyed, but so is your oven that you’ll now have to clean.
Depending on how fast your oven heats up, it could take about 45 – 60 minutes to get the lasagna to the desired temperature. Remember, everything in it is table ready, except the lasagna noodles, so follow the package directions for cooking time. I usually heat mine until I see the edges bubbling and the cheese on top is melted. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and let it cool. Serve with garlic bread and a nice red wine (if you so choose) and enjoy.