Chef Frank's lasagna

Three Keys to Creamy, Meaty Lasagna

Chef Frank uses bechamel, pancetta and short rib in his signature layered pasta.

Epicurious' 4 Levels series showcases professional ICE chefs' versions of classic recipes alongside amateur and advanced cooks' variations. In this episode, Chef Frank Proto makes his own bechamel and lasagna sheets and uses pancetta and short ribs in his tomato sauce.

"Pancetta is basically cured pork belly," Chef Frank explains. The salt and fat content add "depth and richness to tomato sauce." After seasoning and browning short ribs, he adds red wine, red chili flakes, beef stock, and diced carrots and onions to his rustic, chunky, rich meat sauce.

Next, he makes a bechamel sauce with flour and parmesan, inspired by his Italian-American family and traditional cooking in Northern Italy. He says the cheese and cream melt together to "make this beautiful creamy layer in our lasagna."

Last, Chef Frank assures us that fresh pasta is easy yet messy. He uses a high concentration of eggs, rolls the sheets to a medium thickness and hard boils the pasta before assembling his lasagna. The food scientist says this results in a "high moisture content, shorter cook time and softer consistency."

"Anytime you have a crowd over, you should make this lasagna," Chef Frank advises. "It feeds a lot of people."

Watch the video for his demo and get the complete recipe below.


Lasagna, Meat Sauce & Bechamel


For the pasta:

  • 1-1 1/2 pounds 00 or all-purpose flour
  • 6 eggs
  • Salt


  1. Make a well with the flour on a large cutting board. Crack the eggs in the center of the well and season with salt.
  2. Fold the flour into the eggs to form a dough. Knead and let rest for about 1 hour.
  3. Roll into large sheets. Boil sheets in salted water and drain onto a rack. Reserve for assembly.

Meat sauce


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds short ribs, boneless
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, rough chop
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves removed and set aside, stems tied for the sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 quart tomatoes, crushed and peeled
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili flakes


  1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pot.
  2. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Add the short ribs to the pot and brown on all sides.
  3. Remove the short ribs and add the pancetta. Brown lightly then add the onions and carrots. Brown lightly then add the garlic.
  4. When the garlic is toasted, add the wine and reduce by half.
  5. Add the basil stems and veal stock and let cook for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 1 hour on low heat. Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes.



  • 80 ounces whole milk
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 ounces flour
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


  1. Warm the milk in a sauce pot.
  2. Heat the butter in another sauce pot. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes without getting any color.
  4. Add the warm milk and let cook for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Add the cheese and season with salt and black pepper.



  • 3 pounds ricotta
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


  1. Blend everything together. Season to taste.

To assemble:


  • Cooked pasta sheets
  • Meat sauce
  • Bechamel or ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino
  • 25-30 basil leaves


  1. Put a layer of meat sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.
  2. Place a layer of pasta to cover the bottom. Top with a layer of meat sauce then a layer of bechamel or ricotta.
  3. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Continue with this until you have a full casserole.
  4. Top with more sauce and grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  5. Cut into portions. Serve with extra sauce on the side and more grated cheese.

Make your own homemade pasta at ICE.

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