A Recipe for Vincisgrassi from Chef Sohail Zandi of Brushland Eating House

Tucking into the downy snow that has blanketed Bovina means giving in to the yearn for warming, comforting dishes that are slow-braised and soul-soothing. Fitting this bill is our take on Vincisgrassi, a staple of the Marche region of Italy, which incorporates both succulent pork from nearby Greenane Farm and tender Bramley Mountain Farm ground beef, while making great use of our favorite local tomatoes, grown by our friends Steve and Kristie at Burnett Farm.

This relative of lasagna could easily become a Sunday tradition, made over the course of a slow morning while coffee is refilled and a favorite film hums in the background. If you do want to serve this dish to a crowd, say at Christmastime, I recommend getting most of the work done in advance, so that you’re not bound to a pot of sauce, hands covered in flour. You can get as far as assembling the rolls, topping each with sauce when everyone gets hungry. Keep a bottle of Eminence Road Farm Winery Cab Franc within reach, which with its barnyard funk and abundance of sour cherry acidity, balances out the richness of the Vincisgrassi.

Trading Brooklyn for the tiny hamlet of Bovina, Sohail Zandi and Sara Elbert helm Brushland Eating House, a classic, cozy eatery northwest of New York City. Sharing a love for the Catskills region and the intense sweetness of the seasons, Sohail and Sara have created a life rich in comforting food, trout fishing, flower growing, and chicken raising. Take a peek at their life in the mountains by following them on Instagram or by visiting our feature on Brushland Eating House, one of our favorite restaurants north of the city.

  • Ingredients:
  • For the Pasta
    1 box lasagna sheets
    8 cups bolognese
    6 cups bechamel
    Ricotta cheese
    Chopped parsley
  • For the Bolognese
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 pound ground beef
    1 pound ground veal
    1/2 pound ground pork
    1 cup white wine
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 celery stalk, finely chopped
    1 carrot, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    1 14.5-ounce canned tomatoes, pureed
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
    1 pinch clove
    1 pinch nutmeg
    1 bay leaf
    3 cups veal stock
    1 cup heavy cream
    1 cup milk
  • For the Bechamel
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 onion, minced
    1 head garlic, minced
    1 cup flour
    4 cups heavy cream
Vinci Grassi Recipe by Sohail Zandi of Brushland Eating House. andnorth.com

Serves 6 – 8

1. Preheat oven to 300°F degrees.

2. Prepare your bolognese mixture: In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, slowly brown the meats in olive oil. Add the white wine. Once the wine is absorbed by the meat, add the chopped vegetables. Once the vegetables are soft, stir in tomato paste with the spices and bloom, or fry, for two minutes. Next, add the pureed tomatoes, then the veal stock, and reduce by 3/4. Stir in cream and milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours if your day allows for it. Allow the sauce to come to room temperature before straining so that you are left with a thick meat mixture.

3. Prepare your bechamel: In a small saucepan, over low heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion is soft and transparent. Add flour and stir continuously to form a roux. Slowly add cream while stirring to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Chill.

4. In the meantime, cook the pasta sheets in boiling water for 5 – 8 minutes, or until al dente. Make sure to coat each pasta layer with olive oil to avoid sticking while you assemble your vincisgrassi.

5. On an easy to clean surface, lay out a single layer of pasta sheets. Spread a layer of bechamel evenly atop. Add another layer of pasta sheets. Spread a layer of bolognese evenly atop. Roll up sheets to finished lasagna form. Repeat.

6. Place your vincisgrassi on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 5 – 7 minutes in the oven until heated all the way through. Garnish with a dollop of fresh ricotta and a sprinkle of chopped parsley before serving.

Vinci Grassi Recipe by Sohail Zandi of Brushland Eating House. andnorth.com
Vinci Grassi Recipe by Sohail Zandi of Brushland Eating House. andnorth.com
Vinci Grassi Recipe by Sohail Zandi of Brushland Eating House. andnorth.com
Vinci Grassi Recipe by Sohail Zandi of Brushland Eating House. andnorth.com