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Barbecue Pork Lasagna with Grandma's Sunday Gravy

Matt Abodo's barbecue pork lasagna with grandma's Sunday gravy. TODAY, January 24th 2016.
Matt Abodo's barbecue pork lasagna with grandma's Sunday gravy. TODAY, January 24th 2016.Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Prep Time:
4 hrs


Pork shoulder
  • 8-10 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Béchamel Sauce
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Grandma's Sunday Gravy
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 sweet Italian sausage links (no casing)
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 medium medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 28-ounce cans pureed tomatoes
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 10 leaves basil
To Assemble Lasagna
  • 2 packages no-boil pasta sheets, such as Delverde brand (2 pounds)
  • 2 pounds barbecue pork shoulder
  • 4 cups béchamel sauce
  • 2 quarts Grandma's Sunday Gravy
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Chef notes

I love this recipe because it marries two of my favorite things to cook: Italian food and barbecue. In addition to using the slow-cooked pork barbecue and Sunday gravy in the lasagna, you can serve the leftovers separately. Try the barbecue piled into sandwiches and the gravy served over pasta.

Technique tips: Once the bone in the pork shoulder can easily be removed you know the pork is done and is ready to shred. While cooking the Sunday Gravy, be sure to keep the heat on a medium-low setting and stir occasionally to prevent the tomato from scorching.

Swap options: Swap the pulled pork for barbecued chicken or duck thighs or beef brisket.


To make the rub:

Combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. 

To make the slow-cooker BBQ pork: 

Generously rub the pork shoulder with spice mix to cover. Place pork shoulder into slow cooker with chicken stock, tomato paste, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and any remaining rub. Cook on low for 8 hours or until the bone can be removed easily. Using tongs, shred the pork and incorporate all of the juices into the meat. Reserve for the lasagna or use in sandwiches or barbecue plates with your favorite barbecue sauce. 

To make the béchamel sauce:

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then add flour and stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and turns a light golden brown, about 6-7 minutes.  Add milk to the butter mixture, 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until the sauce is very smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and nutmeg. Set aside covered with plastic wrap so it does not form a skin or pour into a disposable plastic pastry bag (or plastic zip-top bag) until you are ready to make the lasagna.

To make the Sunday gravy: 

Warm a large sauce pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Once the oil just begins to smoke, add the sausage and cook until browned, using a fork or spoon to break it into small crumbles. When sausage is cooked through, remove from pan and reserve. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, turn the heat down to medium low, add smashed garlic and cook until light brown and aromatic. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Add the red wine, stirring to deglaze, and cook down until red wine is reduced by half. Return the browned sausage to the pot and add pureed tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary with sugar and salt. Add basil, then remove sauce from heat and cool completely to reserve for lasagna. (The sauce may also be used over pasta instead of in the lasagna.)

To assemble lasagna: 

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Gently rewarm the barbecue pork, béchamel and Sunday Gravy.

Line a large baking pan with parchment paper and spoon on some of the gravy. Lay lasagna sheets over the sauce, then distribute about 2 ounces of the pork shoulder evenly over the sheet. Add a layer of Sunday Gravy (about 2 ounces). Using a pastry bag (or a plastic zip-top bag with the corner snipped off), zig-zag about 2 ounces of the béchamel across the pasta sheets. Sprinkle with about 1 ounce of grated Parmesan cheese. Place the next set of pasta sheets on top and gently press into the fillings. Continue steps, layering until you use up all your pasta sheets. Bake lasagna until noodles are tender and the lasagna is warmed through. Alternately, assemble the lasagna, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour to overnight. Then slice off individual servings, sear in a skillet, then bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

To serve:

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of Sunday Gravy on each plate, top with a slice of lasagna and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.