How to Make Che Fico’s World-Famous Lasagna at Home
Plus, picks from the restaurant’s takeaway shop straight from chef David Nayfeld
Che Fico is nothing less than the top table in all of San Francisco, ably managing that rarest of qualities: excellence without pretension. It is not, however, immune to coronavirus protocols, which means that if you want executive chef and co-founder David Nayfeld’s award-winning lasagna alla bolognese, you’re going to have to make it at home.
If you’re looking to next-level it, Nayfeld suggests laminating the lasagna sheets (though, he says, feel free to substitute store-bought) or maybe playing with the bolognese’s meats — though he recommends staying away a smoked meat, like smoky bacon.
“Guanciale, prosciutto, pancetta, OK, but you want to stay away from an overly smoky bacon that’ll make the ragu overly smoky,” he says. Once all this is done, he says, “you can finish with some Parmigiano-Reggiano and a nice olive oil.”
If the directions below look daunting and you’re in the Bay Area, do not worry. Happily, the restaurant now offers an array of prepared dishes with Che Fico-made pasta for heating up at home. “We have an amazing array of take-and-bake meals: a meat lasagna, an incredible [vegetarian] lasagna with Bloomsdale spinach and ricotta, an eggplant parm — and all you need to do is pop it in the oven and you’re ready to go,” Nayfeld says. “My favorite thing is to keep it in my freezer — and if we didn’t plan for dinner, we’ll just throw it in the oven. Add a green salad and you’re set.”
If that wasn’t enough, the restaurant can now bring a heightened level of panache to even the most Raisin Bran Crunch-lined pantries (literally never ate this pre-pandemic, now cannot get enough of it). Che Fico’s line of takeaway comestibles includes:
Gianduja: “The dreamiest spread on the planet — incredible as a topping for cake, dip for apples, spread on cookies, or in my house we just eat it by the spoonful.”
Calabrian chili bomba: “This is aptly named bomba because it’s a flavor explosion. Spicy, garlicky, tangy in all the best ways. It’s great for a sandwich spread, pizza topping, or a way to finish grilled meats.”
Marmellata: “This Italian jam is a collection of all the best ingredients during peak season from our local farms. I always have two or three flavors in my fridge — makes a great addition to toast or steel cut oats.”
Rigatoni set: “This is us taking the guesswork out of sourcing and measuring. We make all the components here in the restaurant from the best ingredients you can source in the world.”
And if you’re up for a challenge, just hit your local grocer and then try your hand at Nayfeld’s lasagna, as detailed in the recipe below.
David Nayfeld’s Lasagna alla Bolognese
4¼ c. 00 flour
3 whole eggs
7 egg yolks
Add the 00 flour to the bowl of a stand mixer and slowly add the eggs. Mix on medium speed with the dough hook for ten minutes. Add water a teaspoon at a time if necessary. Take the dough out and knead by hand for an additional five minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and rest for one hour. Roll through each number on the pasta machine twice until you can see your hand through the dough. Cut into rectangles, 9”x13”.
1½ tbsp unsalted butter
⅛ lb prosciutto, ground
¼ lb pancetta, ground
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled
2 small celery stalk
1 lb ground veal, 70/30 blend
½ lb ground pork, 80/20 blend
1 bay leaf, fresh
150 ml red wine
100 ml water
½ 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, milled
2 tsp gray sea salt
Melt the butter in a stock pot and then add the prosciutto, and pancetta. Cook over medium heat to render all the fat without getting any color. Add yellow onion and continue to sweat until translucent. Chop the carrot, garlic, and celery in a food processor. Add to the pot and sweat until aromatic. Add ground veal, ground pork and bay leaf, stir until warm, no color. Add salt and wine and reduce slightly. Add tomatoes. Add water and simmer 5-6 hours over very low heat, stirring frequently.
½ lb unsalted butter
1½ c. ABC flour
4 c. whole milk
2 tsp baleine salt
Melt butter over medium heat in a 3qt sauce pot. Once melted, whisk in flour to make a blonde roux. Continue to cook until it starts to smell like toasted nuts and turns blonde. Add milk and continue to cook over medium heat until thickened. Season with salt and reserve.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9”x13” square baking pan with cooking spray. Blanch pasta sheets for one minute in salted boiling water and cool in an ice bath. Combine the bolognese and bechamel in a small pot. Heat over medium heat until warm and season to taste. Lay one pasta sheet down on the bottom of the baking pan.
Spoon on 1/10th of the bolognese over the pasta sheet and repeat until you have used all ten sheets of pasta and all of the bolognese mixture. Wrap the lasagna in tin foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional ten minutes.
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