Sunday, March 16, 2008


The thing about lasagne is that it is on every pub and cafe menu up and down the country but it is so rarely well-executed. It's not difficult to make a good lasagne but it does require some time - not necessarily chained to the stove - but just keeping an eye on things. I like to make this recipe over three days, ragu sauce on day one, make bechamel sauce and assemble on day two and then leave overnight for the flavours to meld together before baking.

Ragu Sauce:
2 carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
150g panchetta, diced

1 glass wine
1 kg mined beef
2 x 400g good quality tinned tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree
pinch dried oregano
  • Add 2 tbsp olive oil to the pan and add carrots, celery, garlic, onion and pancetta
  • Cook over a moderately low heat for 20 mins - you want all the veg to soften but not colour (this is known as a soffritto in Italian)
  • Turn heat up slightly and add the minced beef, stir until all meat has browned
  • Add the glass of wine and leave to bubble off
  • Add tomatoes, puree, oregano and season
  • Cook over a low heat for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until nice and thick
Bechamel Sauce:
1200 ml milk

1 onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

10 peppercorns

65g butter
65g plain flour
  • Place milk, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns in a saucepan
  • Bring up to the boil, swith off heat and leave to cool and infuse
  • Melt butter in a saucepan and add flour
  • Cook over a low heat for 1-2 mins (essential to cook the flour)
  • Add the milk one ladle at a time and whisk in thoroughly
  • Cook slowly over low heat until thick, stirring all the time
I like to blanch my lasagne's sheets for about 10 mins before assembly as it cuts down the cooking time later and allows the flavours to come together better before cooking. When ready to bake top with grated parmesan and bake @ 180° for 30-40 minutes.


Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

Comfort food at it's best!!!

Is it red wine you're using to go with the beef?

Kate said...

I just use whatever I have to hand - but that's usually red as it's what I would mostly drink. I freeze odds and ends of bottles of wine in ice-cube trays for making dishes like this

dpm said...

I do enjoy the Irish version of lasagna - with bechamel. In the States I've noticed we use ricotta cheese instead. I wonder which is more Italian?

Polly Peirce said...

Your recipe is remarkably similar to the one I use from The Reader's Digest Cookery year (except for the can of tomatoes). The result; Lasagne at its best.

All this, and not a clove of garlic in sight! Yum!

Sarah@lettersonlunches said...

I agree with taking your time. I make the ragu on day 1 and assemble & cook on day 2. Good idea to add a day 3. I also add cheese into my bechemal sauce!!!