45ml Olive oil
750g beef mince - not too lean
500g pork mince
5 thick, coarse pork sausages
1 medium carrot - peeled and diced small
2 medium brown onions – small dice
2 celery sticks - small dice
4 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped or crushed
250ml dry white wine
45ml tomato paste
200ml red wine
3 bay leaves
3 cans diced Italian tomatoes
2-3packs fresh lasagne sheets (depending on brand) or make your own!
140g plain flour
2L whole milk
¼ whole nutmeg, finely grated
150g parmesan cheese grated
250g fresh mozzarella optional
Place a large pot over a medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the mince, sausage (squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings and break into walnut sized lumps) and cook until lightly browned and cooked through, breaking it up as you go. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. When browned, remove meat to a large bowl, leaving behind as much of the cooking fat as you can. Add the carrots, onion and celery to the pan and cook until they are soft and the onion is becoming translucent - try not to brown it. Add the finely chopped or crushed garlic. Stir through and cook for a few minutes until garlic is fragrant. Turn up the heat a little and deglaze the pan with the white wine. When the wine has reduced to almost nothing, add back the meat. Stir, then add the red wine mixed with the tomato paste. Stir again before adding the canned tomatoes, bay leaves, three cans of water and salt and pepper.
Stir well and bring to the boil. Cover before turning the heat right down. Cook very gently for about three hours. Stir from time to time to ensure the sauce doesn't stick or burn. If the sauce gets too thick, add some more water. You could also cook this in the oven. The sauce is ready when it smells irresistibly Italian and it's thick, dark and glossy. You can use this over pasta as a 'bolognese' type sauce or here, as I do, for the best lasagne! It will store in the fridge for a couple of days and freezes well. If I'm making lasagne, I will let it cool somewhat before I start layering as it's just easier to work with.
About an hour before you want to start assembling your lasagne, start your bechamel. Start by melting the butter over a medium heat in a roomy, heavy-based pan large enough to fit the finished sauce. Add the flour and whisk (a small roux whisk is ideal for this) until the flour is incorporated into the butter and there are no lumps. Start adding your milk, a little at a time, whisking continuously until all the milk is added. Change to a wooden spoon or spatula, raise the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauces comes to a boil before lowering the heat again and continuing to cook for 8-10 mins (a Geoff Scott trick from his 'Sauces' Masterclass that ensures a velvety white sauce). Add nutmeg, finely grated parmesan, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Assemble the lasagne: begin by buttering or oiling your dish/es. Coat the bottom of the dish with a layer of bechamel. Top this with a single layer of lasagne. Then add a thin layer of meat sauce, topped with a layer of bechamel (white) sauce. Add a sprinkling of parmesan and a few bits of fresh mozzarella scattered around (if using). Add another layer of lasagne sheets and carry on layering with meat sauce, white sauce, parmesan and mozzarella until you run out of sauces or reach the top of the dish (it seems to differ each time!) Finish with a thick layer of white sauce and more parmesan before covering with foil and baking for 40 mins at 180C. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 mins or so until the top is crisping and bubbling. Remove from the oven and try to allow the lasagne to sit for at least 20 mins after which it will be much easier to cut.
- Tags: mains