Proper Homemade Lasagne

You really can’t beat a proper homemade lasagne. It’s one of my all time favourite comfort foods. This recipe uses my ultimate ragù alla bolognese sauce, layered with a homemade béchamel, pasta and rich parmesan cheese.

The secret to a great lasagne really is the bolognese. I’ve been working on my Bolognese sauce recipe for a while to make sure it’s absolutely perfect, and trust me it’s delicious. The secrets to a delicious bolognese are:  a finely chopped ‘soffritto’ of onion, garlic, celery and carrot, high quality mince, a good red wine and most importantly – time.  You cannot rush a ragu otherwise the meat will be tough! It needs plenty of time to bubble away and intensify in flavour – at least 2 and a half hours. If you don’t like celery just chop it up really, really finely! It will essentially disintegrate in the pan but it’s so important for the overall flavour so it cannot be missed out.

Do not buy white sauce/béchamel or bolognese from a jar! They’re ridiculously expensive and usually high in salt too.

This quantity of bolognese will make a large lasagne for 6 plus an extra 2 portions of pasta sauce. The spare sauce will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer or 4 days in the fridge. You can freeze any leftover lasagne too – just make sure it’s piping hot when you re-heat it.

Ingredients:

For the bolognese:

– 1 kg beef mince (approx. 10% fat)
– 250 ml red wine
– 1 celery stick, finely chopped
– 1 carrot, finely chopped
– 1 small red onion, finely chopped
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed
– 2 tbsp double concentrated tomato puree
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 tsp oregano, dried
– 400g can of chopped tomatoes
– 1 beef stock cube
– 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
– 10g parmigiano reggiano, grated
– sea salt and black pepper
– olive oil

For the béchamel:
– 30g parmigiano reggiano, grated
– 60 g plain flour
– 70 g butter
– approx. 450 ml milk
– 1 bay leaf

To assemble:
– dried lasagne sheets
– 20g parmigiano reggiano, grated

Method:

  1. Add the chopped celery, carrot, red onion and garlic to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sweat over a medium heat in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, until softened.
  2. Turn up the heat a little then crumble in the mince meat and brown all over. Add the large glass of red wine and boil until most of the liquid has gone, then add the add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, beef stock cube, worcestershire sauce and top up with a can full of cold water.
  3. Season generously and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently with a lid on for an hour, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove the lid and leave to reduce uncovered for another 1.5-2 hours until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, adjust the seasoning then set aside until needed.
  5. Whilst the bolognese reduces, make the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan then add the flour and whisk together. Cook the roux for 1 minute over a low-medium heat then add a splash of milk (around 50 ml) and whisk to combine. Continue to add the milk a bit at time, whisking until smooth between each addition, until you have a thick sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Add the bay leaf, cheese, salt and pepper, stir to combine and set aside until needed.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190°C (fan)/210°C (electric). Remove the bay leaf from each sauce. To assemble the lasagne, cover the base of the dish with bolognese then top with a layer of lasagne sheets. Cover with a layer of béchamel, sprinkle over a little of the cheese then top with another layer of lasagne sheets. Continue to build the lasagne in this way, alternating the sauces each time, but ensure you finish with a thick béchamel layer. Cover completely with the rest of the grated cheese then place on the top shelf of the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until its bubbling up at the sides and golden on top.

Enjoy!

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