Our No.8 Dutch Oven can cook many things—including bread, braises, chicken, popcorn, and fried stuff—but we’d never thought to use to make lasagna, until the talented author and food stylist Maria del Mar Cuadra sent us her recipe for a seven-layer lasagna designed specifically for our pot. Hers takes a more traditional Italian approach, with layers of rich, meaty Bolognese and velvety Mornay sauce (in lieu of ricotta and mozzarella), which allows the slow-cooked meat sauce to be the focal point.
Another genius tip we picked up from this recipe: cooking the Bolognese in the oven freed us up from having to hover over the stovetop for hours, stirring and adjusting the heat, and the oven-baked sauce achieves a beautiful caramelization that’s luxuriously deep in flavor.
Make a double batch of Bolognese and freeze the rest for quick, weeknight pasta feasting.
You can use boiled lasagna noodles in this recipe, but the no-bake variety, although thinner, provide a more satisfying and dense bite without overwhelming the Bolognese.
For an extra-sharp Mornay, swap Pecorino-Romano for the Parmesan.
Recipe: Deep-Dish Dutch Oven Lasagna
For the Bolognese:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound ground chuck (80% lean)
½ pound ground pork
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bay leaf
For the Mornay sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, warmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
14 sheets oven-ready (no-boil) lasagna
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about ½ cup)
The Field Method for Cast Iron Care
Make the Bolognese: Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 300°F. Heat the butter and oil in a No.8 Dutch Oven over medium-high heat until butter is bubbling. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened (but not browned), 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until darkened in color and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the beef and pork and season generously with salt. Cook, stirring and breaking up clumps, until meat is no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk and cook until mostly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, the meat should look like it’s well coated in gravy.
Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to the pot, or pour them into the pot and use kitchen shears to cut them into bite-size pieces. Add the bay leaf, bring to boil, and transfer to the oven (uncovered). Bake until the sauce is thick and jammy, about 3 hours, stirring it every 30 minutes. If at any point it starts sticking or looks very dry, add water, ½ cup at a time, as needed.
Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and season the sauce to taste. Transfer the Bolognese to a large bowl, scraping the pot as clean as possible with a rubber spatula. The Bolognese can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to use, warm bolognese prior to assembling lasagna. If using frozen, thaw completely in the refrigerator and warm. (Yield: about 5 cups).
Make the Mornay sauce: While the Bolognese is in the oven, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbling. Add the flour and whisk until a paste is formed. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells nutty, about 1 minute. Slowly and steadily pour in the warm milk while whisking, making sure to reach all around the bottom and sides of the saucepan. Continue stirring until the sauce begins to simmer gently, about 3 minutes, or until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese and garlic and remove from the heat. Use the sauce immediately or press a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce (to prevent a skin from forming) until ready to assemble the lasagna. The Mornay can be made up to 3 days in advance: Cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Warm before using. If it’s too thick and pudding-like, stir in a bit of milk. (Yield: about 3 cups).
Make the lasagna: Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Fill a large mixing bowl with warm water and soak the lasagna noodles until pliable, about 20 minutes. Rub the bottom and sides of the Dutch oven with butter. Spread a scant ¾ cup Bolognese on the bottom. Remove 1 lasagna sheet from the bowl, wipe off excess water, and lay over the Bolognese. Repeat with a second sheet, placing it next to the first sheet. (There will be gaps between the edges of the sheet and the Dutch oven, and that is completely fine.) Top the first layer of sheets with another scant ¾ cup of Bolognese and a generous ⅓ cup of Mornay sauce, using a spoon to combine and spread them evenly. Repeat with the remaining lasagna sheets, Bolognese, and Mornay. The very top layer of the lasagna will be all Mornay. Sprinkle the top layer with cheese, cover with a lid, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the oven temperature to 425°F, and bake until bubbling and browned in spots, 15 to 20 minutes longer.
Remove the lasagna from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Seasoning Rating: OK
Lasagna—or any baked pasta, really—makes great use of the Dutch oven. Here, you can use your Field D.O. to make the sauce, as well as the final pasta bake.
The bolognese includes tomatoes, and tomatoes mean acid, which can affect your seasoning over the course of a lengthy simmer. For that reason, recipes like this are better suited to well-seasoned Dutch ovens than brand-new cookware. When the sauce is done, transfer to another bowl and clean the Dutch oven immediately following the Field Method for cast iron care.
The lasagna bake should be quick, easy, and melty. Serve in the Dutch oven, but don't store your leftovers for long: moisture can become trapped by dense pasta, especially in the fridge. After dinner, it's best to clean promptly and make sure to apply Field Seasoning Oil before you put the pot away.
Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.
Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.
Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.
OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.