This is a riff off my mother’s lasagna, and of course, everyone’s mother makes the best lasagna, right? This one is supremely meaty, supremely cheesy. There’s something like 3 pounds of meat and 2 pounds of cheese in this bad boy. But it makes 8 to 10 servings, so don’t worry about it. This lasagna, like most, reheats well, too.
Make the sauce. Brown the meat in a large, heavy pot like a Dutch oven. Take your time and do this in batches. It could take as long as 20 minutes. Put all the browned meat back in the pot and then add the chopped onions and cook for another 4 to 8 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add seasonings – fennel seeds and pollen if using, oregano, basil, maybe a little cayenne if you want — and mix well.
Mix the wine and tomato paste and pour in the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Add the tomato sauce and can of crushed tomatoes and mix again. Bring to a simmer and taste it: If it's too acidic, add the sugar. Cook slowly for 1 to 2 hours. This can be done as much as two days ahead of time.
Prepare the lasagna. Soak the lasagna noodles in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Meanwhile, mix the parsley with the ricotta cheese in a bowl. Grate the pecorino or parmesan and shred the mozzarella. Grate 1/2 a nutmeg into the ricotta. If you can’t find whole nutmegs, use 1 teaspoon.
To assemble, spread a good amount of the meat sauce on the bottom of a standard 9-inch by 13-inch casserole pan. Remove the lasagna noodles and lay on the meat sauce. Spread half the ricotta cheese mixture on the noodles, then half the mozzarella cheese, then 1/2 the pecorino.
Add another layer of meat sauce — you will have one final layer after this — then the rest of the noodles. Add the remaining ricotta and mozzarella, plus 1/2 of the remaining pecorino. Spread the remaining meat sauce on this, then sprinkle with the last bit of pecorino.
To cook, cover the lasagna with foil. You might want to spray the underside first with non-stick spray so the cheese doesn't stick to it. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Carefully take off the foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving with a strong red wine.