Lasagne (or “Lasagna” if you’re American) is a classic Italian dish, or perhaps a better word would be iconic since it’s even found it’s way into foodie folklore by being Garfield’s, the ornery cartoon cat, favourite dish. But whether you’re an Italian, Englishman, American, a Cat, Dog, Squirrel, Alpaca or Guinea Pig, everyone has their own version of Lasagne. This recipe here is my very own that I’ve tweaked over the years. While I’m not claiming it to be an 100% authentic Italian recipe by any means, but I do try and use as many of the classic ingredients as I possibly can while adding my own touches to make a hearty, tasty lasagne that will happily feed a family, or one or two people with enough for leftovers for a good day or two!
- For the Ragu:
- 500g Beef Mince
- 350g Pork Mince
- 2 x Onions, finely diced
- 2 x Carrots, finely diced
- 2 x Celery Sticks, finely diced
- 4 x Garlic Cloves, finely diced
- 2 tbsp Plain Flour
- 800ml Passata
- 125ml White Wine
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 50ml Milk
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- 2 tsbp Olive Oil
- For the Bechamel:
- 100g Butter
- 100g Plain Flour
- 1 litre Semi-Skimmed Milk
- 50g Parmesan, grated
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- Pinch of Grated Nutmeg
- For the Lasagne:
- 18 x Lasagne Sheets
- 100g Grated Mature Cheddar Cheese
- 250g Mozzarella, drained
Very finely dice the onions, carrots, celery sticks, and garlic cloves.
In a large pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-high heat, and then add in the beef and pork mince cooking until the mince is nicely browned all over. Remove from the pan and leave to one side.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the heat, bring the heat down to a medium-low, and add in the diced onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are nicely softened and the onions translucent.
Bring the heat back up to a medium-high, add in the mince back into the pan, and add in the flour, plus the herbs and spices and mix into the meat and vegetables, making sure everything is well-coated. Cook for a few minutes to cook out the raw flour and bring out the flavours of the herbs and spices.
Now, add in the passata, white wine, milk and Worcestershire sauce and stir it into the meat. Bring it up to a gentle simmer, and then cover and bring the heat down to low and allow to bubble away for 30 minutes. You can remove the lid for the final 5 - 10 minutes if you think your ragu isn't thick enough.
While the ragu bubbles away, let's work on the Bechamel sauce - firstly, grab a large saucepan and place onto a medium-high heat.
Add in the butter to the pan until it melts and starts to bubble slightly, then add in the flour, stir into the butter, and cook while stirring constantly for a few minutes.
Now, very gradually, add the milk into the butter and flour mixture, being sure to stir all the time to keep any lumps from developing. A good bechamel takes time, so add in the milk little-by-little, stirring constantly, until all the milk is added and you have a smooth and creamy sauce.
Add in the grated parmesan to the Bechamel, along with the salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir together off the heat until all the cheese has melted into the sauce. Gently cover to prevent a skin from forming while the ragu finishes cooking.
Pre-heat an oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.
In a 35cm (l) x 25cm (w) x 7cm (d) dish, add a layer of the ragu, and then a drizzle of the Bechamel sauce, then cover well with six of the lasagne sheets.
Add another layer of the ragu, another drizzle of the Bechamel, and then another six lasagne sheets.
Repeat the previous step with another layer of ragu, Bechamel and lasagne sheets, and then top the lasagne off with the rest of Bechamel and then sprinkle over the grated cheddar cheese, and tear off pieces of the mozzarella and distribute them evenly over the top of the lasagne.
Cover the lasagne in foil and place in the oven to bake for 40 minutes on the middle shelf. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.
Remove from the oven, leave to rest for 5 minutes and serve with salad, garlic bread or both.