Lasagne

Lasagne- A Cookbook Collection 1

There is nothing more comforting than knowing you have a big batch of lasagne to hand in the freezer. I like to freeze it in individual portions and then you can have a hearty, comforting, homemade dinner on the table in no time. If you are not freezing this, I would recommend making it the day before you plan to eat it so that the flavours can develop. I took inspiration from Delia Smith’s Complete How to Cook by putting slices of mozzarella in the layers. It makes the lasagne very rich, not one for the diet! Leave it out if you want, but I’d miss the stringy cheese in the layers of pasta. (That Delia book is great for beginners, it even covers how to boil an egg!)

Lasagne - A Cookbook Collection

Serves 6 generously

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g diced pancetta – you can use smoked bacon instead
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 stick celery very finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot very finely diced
  • 700g lean minced beef
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 175ml red wine
  • 1&1/2 tins chopped tomatoes (600g)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • handful of fresh basil roughly torn
  • 250g mozzarella sliced
  • 650ml full fat milk
  • 40g butter
  • 40g plain flour
  • 80g freshly grated parmesan
  • Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250g fresh lasagne sheets

Method:

  • Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Make sure it is a large pan as there will be a lot of meat sauce here.
  • Add the pancetta and cook until it starts to crisp
  • Add the onions, celery and carrots and fry until soft, about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another few mins.
  • Increase the heat and add the beef. Break up the mince as it cooks so that you don’t have clumps of meat.
  • Once it is browned, season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the tomato puree and mix everything together thoroughly.
  • Add the red wine and cook until reduced slightly.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar and 2 of the bay leaves.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 mins.
  • Remove the lid and simmer for a further 20 mins, stirring every so often. Add the vinegar and the basil.
  • Taste and see if the sauce needs further seasoning.
  • Next, make the béchamel sauce. Put the milk, butter and flour into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
  • Add a bay leaf and simmer for 10 mins, whisking occasionally to stop lumps forming, until the sauce has thickened.
  • Remove the bay leaf, add 40g of the parmesan and the nutmeg. Stir until the parmesan is completely melted into the sauce. Taste and season as needed.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas mark 4.
  • Spoon a thin layer of béchamel sauce on the bottom of your lasagne dish to stop the pasta from sticking. Put a single layer of lasagne sheets on top.
  • Remove the bay leaves from the meat sauce and spoon a third of the sauce onto the pasta sheets.
  • Cover the meat with another layer of lasagne sheets. Spoon a thin layer of the béchamel sauce on top, then sprinkle half of the mozzarella on top.
  • Spoon another third of meat sauce on and repeat layer of lasagne, béchamel and mozzarella.
  • Spoon remainder of meat sauce on top, final layer of lasagne sheets and the remainder of the béchamel sauce.
  • Sprinkle the remainder of the parmesan on top in an even layer.
  • Place in the oven and cook for about 30 mins. The top of the lasagne will bubbling at the edges, have browned slightly and a knife should easily pierce through the lasagne. If you used dry pasta sheets, the cooking time may take longer.
  • Allow it to stand for about 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Lasagne- A Cookbook Collection

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