“If you can’t bake a delicious lasagna, get the fuck outta my face.” These are the immortal words of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, former star of MTV’s Jersey Shore. But don’t say The Situation isn’t kind: He has an official Jersey Shore lasagna recipe, passed down through his Italian family and perfected during his own adventures in the kitchen. (Or so he says.) And he published the recipe. So we tried it.
You can find the key to delicious lasagna in his ghost-written memoir, Here’s the Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks, Avoiding Grenades, and Getting in Your GTL on the Jersey Shore. First of all, that’s the real title. Second, this is the kind of book so trashy that the Dallas Public Library does not have it. In explaining his lasagna recipe, The Situation writes, “When you look at my astonishing physique you probably think to yourself, This kid must eat nothing but molten steel. That’s a common misconception.”
But he also adds, “The secret ingredient to every meal is love. And also garlic.” Definitely! We agree! So maybe this recipe is legit.
The lasagna recipe is pretty skeletal. Sugar is the only ingredient for which a quantity is listed (two tablespoons). There's not even a list of ingredients. Everything else is left as vague as possible.
We used a pound of ground beef (85 percent lean, The Situation's specified favorite), half an onion, seven garlic cloves, one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes instead of The Situation’s “two large cans,” most of a tub of ricotta, and an entire grocery-store plastic package of fresh basil leaves. The only problem we encountered with this balance, aside from maybe not enough onion, was that after finishing off an entire tub of grated Parmesan cheese, we clearly needed more. If you make Jersey Shore lasagna, get yourself a ton of Parmesan.
The Situation does have some strong opinions about how lasagna should go. He’s a big believer in not cooking the noodles, for instance. “Do NOT cook the lasagna noodles first!” We agree: after an hour of baking at 350, the noodles are just about al dente. A few extra minutes would have been fine.
And hey, it’s pretty good lasagna. It’s not great lasagna, not like you’d get at Carbone’s. But The Situation’s lasagna is pretty close to textbook: beef, tomato sauce, cheese. Adding a lot of basil to the beef and cheese layers is a very nice touch. The sauce is a little too sweet from those unnecessary tablespoons of sugar, so the dish calls out for spice. But if you put in enough garlic, there’s something rustic and addicting about it. Seconds will be served.
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The Silver Spoon, Italian cooking’s sacred Bible, offers a couple pointers which could improve The Situation’s lasagna (or yours). When browning your meat, add a splash of good white wine. Dot your layers of pasta with pats of butter, which melt during the baking. (By the way, if you don’t have The Silver Spoon, it clocks in at 1,504 pages and is classified as both a cookbook and a lethal weapon.)
But if you find yourself in a dystopian wasteland future where Here’s the Situation is the only surviving cookbook, you’ll still be able to make good lasagna. The Situation is apparently as good at cooking as he is at GTLM (Gym, Tan, Laundry, Misogyny).
He’s definitely better at baking lasagna than he is at filing tax returns. The Situation’s tax fraud trial begins this fall, after a delay caused when he failed to pay his lawyer. “I definitely need some time to find a new attorney,” Sorrentino said of his, uh, situation, “because I really don’t have much left in the bank.”
Two words, bro: bake sale.