Pasta sheets layered with a rich beef and pork ragu sauce, bubbling with a nice golden crust of Parmesan. I've been making lasagne for years and have tried all sorts of different recipes.
This is my 'titivated' version of one by Delia Smith.
It is so tasty, you may not want to add the chicken livers but they really do add a lot of good flavour to the dish.
You will need:
55g Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), freshly grated
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
150g chicken livers
80g thin sliced Pancetta
extra virgin olive oil - a few glugs for frying
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
3 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tins of good quality Italian chopped tomatoes 1 x400g and 1 x 230g
5 tablespoons tomato purée (tomato paste if your in the US)
175 ml of red wine
a good pinch of dried oregano
a whole nutmeg
salt and freshly milled black pepper
two handfuls of fresh basil - leaves only
For the white sauce:
750ml of whole milk
100g of unsalted butter
55g plain flour
100ml double cream
Pre-heat your oven to 140C/275F or Gas 1
How to do it:
In a large frying pan heat a about a tablespoon oil over a medium heat.
Fry gently the onion and carrot for about 10 minutes, moving it around from time to time.
Slice the pancetta as finely as possible. Now add the pancetta to the pan with the onion.
Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Then transfer this mixture to the casserole.
Add another glug of oil to the frying pan, turn the heat up and fry the beef and pork to brown it, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
Keep it moving so it browns evenly. When it's browned nicely, tip it into the casserole to along with the onions etc.
Trim the chicken livers, rinse them under cold running water and dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper.
Pull off any skin and snip out any strange looking bits with kitchen scissors and chop them into really small pieces.
Now you need to put another tiny bit of oil into the frying pan and cook the pieces of chicken liver. As soon as they have browned nicely, add them the the casserole too.
You now want to put the flame proof casserole over the direct heat and give everything a good stir. Add the tin of tomatoes, the tomato purée, oregano and red wine.
Give it a really good seasoning of salt, pepper and about a quarter of a nutmeg, grated.
Still stirring, allow it to come up to simmering point.
Using only half of the basil leaves (one handful) tear them into small pieces and add them to the casserole.
Picture above is the sauce ready to go into the oven.
Once everything is simmering, put the casserole on the centre shelf of the pre-heated oven without a lid.
Leave it to cook slowly, for about an hour and then check on it, and give it a stir.
Put it back for another 45 minutes and then check and give it a good stir.
If you haven't by now got a nice thick, reduced concentrated sauce, that only has very little liquid left in it then put it back for another 15 minute and by then is must be nice and thick.
When it is, remove it from the oven.
Have a taste to check the seasoning then tear the other handful of basil into small pieces and stir them in.
Now leave the meat sauce to one side and make the white sauce.
Now to make the white sauce:
Put the butter and flour into a large thick-based saucepan and put it over a medium heat whilst stirring with a wooden spoon.
Let it cook for a minute or so (or the sauce will be lumpy).
Now, remove from the heat and using a balloon whisk, add the milk in a little at a time, whisking all the time.
Once all the milk is in, put the saucepan over a gentle heat and whisk continuously until the sauce comes to simmering point and thickens nicely.
Add some salt and pepper to season and have a taste to make sure it's okay.
Then, with the heat as low as possible, continue to cook the sauce for about 10 minutes. When it's nice and thick, remove from the heat and stir in the cream, and grate in another quarter of the whole nutmeg.
To make the lasagne:
Lightly oil your lasagne dish and spread a little of the ragù over the base of the dish. Cover this with a sheet of pasta.
Now cover that with a little of the white sauce.
Cover that with another sheet of pasta and some more of the ragù.
Repeat this process, finishing with a final layer of cream sauce.
Sprinkle the whole thing with the grated Parmesan cheese and your ready to put it in the oven.
You can do all of this well in advance - just cover with cling film and refrigerate until your ready to cook.
When you're ready, bake the lasagne in a pre-heated oven at
180C/350F or Gas 4
It will take about 45-50 minutes or until bubbling and piping hot.