Chunks of fall-apart tender slow cooker short ribs are layered between wonton wrappers, white cheddar cheese, and creamy béchamel sauce. THIS is the essence of comfort food.
Slow Cooker Short Rib Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce
When I first started polishing recipes online, I realized that I had a decision to make when it came to writing the recipes: provide a lot of instructions and run the risk of readers assuming that because the instructions are long the recipe is difficult and complicated, OR write shorter instructions and assume every reader has enough experience in the kitchen to fill in the gaps.
If you've been following me for any length of time, here or on my baking blog, you know which side of the argument I chose - long, detailed instructions. Over the years I've received messages from readers that they appreciate the level of detail.
And yet, when I publish a recipe like this one, I worry. Will you, dear reader, glance over the lengthly instruction and assume that making this lasagna will require you to spend all day in the kitchen? And will that turn you off from making it?
Oh, how I hope not. Because this dish is not only one of the most comfortingly delicious foods I've ever made (or eaten), it's really quite simple.
Cook the Short Ribs in the Slow Cooker or in the Oven
This recipe uses my absolute favorite recipe for Asian Short Ribs. They are melt-in-your-mouth tender and only require about 5 minutes or prep time before cooking them in a slow cooker or in the oven.
If you want to be eating short rib lasagna for dinner tonight, get the short ribs in the slow cooker in the morning or in the oven early in the afternoon. This will only take a few minutes and you don't actually have to do anything while they cook.
They will simmer away, getting all meltingly tender and delicious and making the whole house smell so good you might need to leave for a bit to stop yourself from eating all the meat before you even have a chance to turn it into lasagna. I might be speaking from experience here. 🙄
After the short ribs are done, it's simply a matter of transforming the cooking liquid into a rich sauce, shredding the meat, making a Béchamel sauce (which is nothing more than milk thickened with flour), and layering it up with some wonton wrapper and cheese in a baking dish.
Even better - make the short ribs a day or two in advance, storing the meat and cooking liquid in your refrigerator until you're ready to make your lasagna.
This makes skimming the excess fat from the cooking liquid much easier because it will naturally harden over the top of the sauce. The only downside - and it's a big one - is that you will have to restrain yourself (and everyone else in your home) from eating the meat.
A note about using wonton wrappers instead of pasta.
This entire recipe is the result of my entering a recipe contest sponsored by JSL Foods, the maker of Twin Dragon Wonton Wrappers.
By the way, he recipe won! 🙌 💃🏻
Let me tell you, while I'd (obviously) love to win the contest, it's all worth it because using wonton wrappers instead of pasta to make lasagna is a revelation to me. I don't know why I've never done it before. They are delicious in there.
As the recipe advises, I like to layer them up, using 8 wonton wrappers per layer, even though 4 is enough to create a layer that stretches to all sides of the pan.
Doubling the layer of wonton wrappers just adds more structure to the lasagna, making it easier to dish out and standing up better to the rich layers of meat and cheese.
For the Lasagna:
- 2 cups milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted)
- 2 ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces (about 3 cups) sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 32 Wonton Wrappers
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions (green onions) - use the white and light green parts only
- Follow this Asian Short Rib recipe to cook 3 pounds of short ribs in the slow cooker or the oven.
- Use tongs to remove meat from the slow cooker to a plate or cutting board and let sit until cool enough to handle.
- Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl; discard any solids left in the strainer. Let the sauce sit undisturbed for 5-10 minutes than skim as much excess fat from the top of the liquid as possible, discarding the fat. *If possible, put the cooking liquid into the refrigerator, uncovered, for an hour or two (or, covered, for up to 2 days). This will allow the excess fat in the liquid to harden across the top of the liquid, making it very easy to remove.
- Add 2 tablespoon cornstarch and about ½ cup of the cooking liquid to a bowl and stir to combine. Add the rest of the cooking liquid to a heavy bottom saucepan. Slowly whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce in the saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, and let simmer, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes until the sauce is thick.
- Meanwhile, pull the short rib meat from the bones and shred it into strips; discard bones and any pieces that are super fatty. (If assembling the lasagna later in the day, or in a couple of days, put the meat into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.)
- Combine the shredded short rib meat with the sauce, stirring to coat the meat in the sauce.
Make the Lasagna:
- To make the béchamel sauce, add milk and the bay leaves to a saucepan and cook over medium just until just under a simmer; small bubbles will appear around the sides of the saucepan. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm. Add the butter to a heavy bottom saucepan and set it over medium heat to melt. When melted, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly and vigorously until the flour is a very light brown. Remove the pan from the heat and very gradually, add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Put the saucepan back over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in salt and pepper. Taste and add more if you like.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish, spread about 2 tablespoons of béchamel sauce over the bottom of the pan. Layer 8 wonton wrappers over the sauce, covering it completely. Spread ⅓ of short rib meat and sauce over the wonton wrappers. Sprinkle with ⅓ of the cheese.
- Pour about ⅓ of the remaining béchamel sauce over the cheese, spreading it out slightly with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Layer another 8 wonton wrappers over the béchamel sauce, following with another ⅓ of the meat and ⅓ of the cheese. Repeat layers one more time using the remaining béchamel sauce, wonton wrappers, meat, and cheese.
- Place the lasagna in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling all around the edges of the pan. If the cheese starts to get too brown, cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil that you've sprayed lightly with non-stick baking spray.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the top with scallions and serve.
Even though this isn't even close to a traditional Italian lasagna, many of the same rules apply. If you need to reheat this dish, this is the best way to reheat lasagna.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by JSL Foods, Inc. and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. While I was not compensated for my time, I did receive free product samples. As always, all opinions are my own.