Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Lasagne
For the béchamel sauce:
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 shallots, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
For the caramelized onions:
- 1/2 cup clarified butter or pure olive oil
- 5 lb. yellow onions, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
- 6 quarts water
- 1 Tbs. salt
- 15 dried lasagne noodles
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 lb. pancetta, minced
- 3/4 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
To make the caramelized onions, in a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat, warm the clarified butter. Add the onions, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely limp, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and sweet, 35 to 45 minutes. Do not let them burn. Remove from the heat, cool and use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Coat the inside of a 9 by13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and lasagne noodles and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 12 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Drain well, rinse in cool water and drain again. Immediately toss noodles with the olive oil.
Spread 1/4 cup of the béchamel sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with 3 lasagne noodles, touching but not overlapping. Make 5 layers of the caramelized onions, pancetta, mozzarella cheese and noodles, ending with the cheese. Top with the remaining béchamel sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes more.
To serve, let lasagne cool for 10 minutes and divide among warmed individual plates. Garnish each serving with a parsley sprig.