Sausage and Mushroom Lasagne di Pane Carasau

We’ve had a strange April, most of it spent in ‘red zone’ lockdown (this weekend is the first time since mid-March that some slight restrictions are lifted — two steps closer closer to freedom!) with temperatures dipping to freezing point, even though a month ago it seemed as if summer had arrived a few months early. The cold front was devastating for winemakers in northern Italy, some even set up burning pyres to warm the crops and keep away the frost (as an aside, this was a story I read in journalist Jamie Mackay’s newsletter The Week in Italy, which is excellent if you want to keep up with a range of things going on in Italy).

But I personally don’t mind a few extra weeks of cooler weather — I am glad of it actually, as it means I can make more things like this sausage ragu, to which, as a last minute thought, I added mushrooms and pretended it was autumn. Marco also likes to add a touch of milk at the end which kind of rounds everything off and gives the sauce an appealingly creamy-but-not-too-creamy silkiness.

We layered it in a sort of lasagne with pane carasau, a rustic, paper-thin, delicate flat bread from Sardinia, and — an impulse buy.  They’re also known as carta musica, “music paper” as it is said that the dough needs to be so thin you can read a sheet of music through it. Once this paper-thin sheet is baked, it is opened, separating into two sheets again, and these are baked further to reach ultimate crispness. It is an ancient bread and was once a staple for shepherds who were away from home for months and could appreciate this long-lasting bread.

It comes in impossibly huge packets of half-meter wide incredibly crisp breads wrapped in paper and one of the things that I love doing with it is layering it in a lasagne in place of pasta into what some Italians might call a “pasticcio.”

Like a pasticcio or a lasagne, you could layer pane carasau with really anything you like — you only need a sauce, some cheese, maybe some bechamel. A simple tomato and mozzarella version is wonderful too, or you could make a spring vegetable version with a sauce of green vegetables like artichokes or asparagus and herbs.

The recipe

For the sugo recipe, see this flavourful sugo bugiardo (an oldie but a real goodie of a recipe from the province of Siena) with crumbled up Tuscan pork and fennel sausages, rigatino or pancetta, a soffritto of onion, carrot and celery, red wine and tomato. I added about 150 grams of chiodini and button mushrooms that I had cooked separately (as an after thought) with garlic and parsley, and Marco added his splash of milk right at the end too. I suppose this was sort of a lazy way for adding creaminess without having to make a bechamel sauce (though I admit, I love bechamel and it would go really well in this too). Four small balls of buffalo mozzarella were torn up and added between the layers of sugo and pane carasau too and a handful of Parmesan went over the top and it went into the oven (190C for about 25 minutes) until well-browned with those crispy bits at the edges that everyone fights over. It’s a really full flavoured dish, I’d suggest a crisp and crunchy salad to pair with it and a nice glass of red.

Note: Some people like to moisten the pane carasau before layering, with water usually, but I find this really unnecessary as the sauce and cheese has more than enough moisture in it.

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Comments

  1. val says:

    I’ve wondered how that bread could be used.
    Your terrazzo is really adding to my enjoyment of your posts, love it!

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