Monday, 23 May 2011

Best - Ever lasagne

I was thinking (and no it didn't hurt that much B) that surely there must be some Italian blood in these veins of mine as I LOVE pasta. Any pasta really. Growing up Mum would often make her own version of spaghetti bolgnaise, which as kids we would devour in minutes. I loved her version so much so that when I was grown up enough (only a couple of years ago - just kidding!) I wanted to make it for my special man (that would be Mr M of course). With my cooking skills not nearly as fine tuned as they are now I took off to the shops and was in search for that special ingredient that Mum would use....."a can of tomatoes" but not just any can. I knew the label and it was a kind of puree that went in with everything. To my horror I couldn't find that can anywhere and was distraught "what would I do now" I thought to myself....if only I knew what I do now!

Of course, I now know you can create your own tomato sauce with cans, with your own tomatoes from your garden or anything really. It is the herbs and spices that you add really add that extra something.

I can't really remember the amount of times I've actually made a lasagne as it's one of our favourites in this house and I have made a few different recipes but most of them are very much alike. I think it's really your choice whether you want to use minced beef, pork mince or veal mince or a combination of all three. I usually just make mine with beef mince but today I wanted to share with you a recipe that I found in my "Neil Perry" cook book (he's another favourite of B & I's). His recipe has a combination of pork and veal mince and the flavour is truly amazing, a really rich thick sauce. I think Neil is right when he says the vinegar gives it that kick and it is quite easy and fast so even the non-chefs out there could give this one a go.

We usually make our own pasta at home now as I was given the gift of all gifts a few years "Kitchen Aid" (Mr M thinks I'm actually married to the Kitchen Aid and not him!). Well it has a pasta making attachment and you basically just have to stand there and feed it through. It's so easy. For today's recipe though I just used the instant packet lasagne sheets as I know many of you out there may not have a pasta making machine (see I do cheat sometimes!).

Also with this recipe it calls for some fresh buffalo or cow's milk mozzarella, I actually bought some fresh buffalo but it was quite expensive so it would be fine just to use the normal mozzarella you buy in the supermarkets if you can't get the other.

You will need:
9 instant-cook lasagne sheets (remember mine were from a box)
500g fresh buffalo or cow's milk mozzarella, torn
100g freshly grated Parmesan

meat sauce:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g pork mince
300g veal mince
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons plain flour
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
a pinch of caster sugar
700ml tomato passata (which means pureed tomatoes)
400g tinned diced tomatoes
1 large hand full basil leaves

bechamel sauce:
50g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
600ml milk
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serves 6

You will require a 23 x 29 x 7cm lasagne dish (something close to this size will be fine) Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (375F/Gas 5)

To make the meat sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add both of the meats and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, for about 4 minutes, or until the meat loses it's raw colour but has not browned.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then pour in the vinegar and stir occasionally until it has almost completely evaporated. Add the sugar, passata and diced tomatoes and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it reduces and thickens slightly.

Adjust the seasoning, stir through the basil leaves and set the sauce aside (at this stage, the sauce can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to two days, then reheated before assembling the lasagne).

To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over lo-medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and stir constantly over the heat, for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk all at once, whisking constantly, to avoid any lumps. Return the pan to the heat and continue to whisk constantly, until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the lasagne, spread one-quarter of the meat sauce into the base of the lasagne dish. Place three of the lasagne sheets over the sauce.

Spread another quarter of the sauce over the lasagne sheets, followed by one-third of the mozzarella. Continue to layer the lasagne sheets, sauce and mozzarella two more times.
Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the final layer of mozzarella, then sprinkle evenly with Parmesan. Cook the lasagne for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the cheese has browned and the sauce is bubbling. Remove the lasagne from the oven and let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. (If you can wait that long!)

Neil Perry.......I think you are right "Best Ever"!!

Enjoy M x

1 comment:

  1. Like you, I too have tried lots of lasagne, as like you I love pasta (or rather what you eat with it). This one ticks all the boxes for me so I am eager to taste it. Sure hope I can find buffalo milk mozzarella!!!