Tuesday

My Lasagne...




Everyone has their own version, their own 'special ingredient', I however don't...particularly. I more or less plop into the pan whatever I feel like on that evening whilst making it.

This however is the regular version whereby I haven't let myself wild on the condiments cupboard. It's my 'dinner for a crowd' pleaser hence making this in a large quantity. It takes a while but bear with it, the slow process of cooking the meat makes all the difference...

To serve 8 takes approx 3 hours.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots (150g) finely chopped
1 red chilli chopped and deseeded
150g of either pancetta or bacon chopped
500g pack of lean mince beef
500g pack of lean pork mince
2 cans of chopped toms
250g passata
3 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
2 tsp oregano
500ml (cheap) red wine
2 beef stock cude
1 tsp Marmite or Bisto granules
approx 400g dried pasta sheets
parmesan (you need approx 50g)
Vine tomatoes for decor

BECHAMEL (WHITE) SAUCE
1.5ltr milk
1 onion thickly sliced
50gm grated cheddar cheese
3 large bay leaves
4 cloves
100gm butter
100gm plain flour
nutmeg for grating


Pour your milk into a large pan and add the onion, bay and cloves  and bring very gently just up to the boil. Turn off the heat and set aside whilst you cook the below.




In a very large pan put the oil, celery, onion, carrot, chilli, garlic and bacon, and cook together on a medium heat until soft but not browning. 






Tip in all the mince and brown. Followed by the passata, chilli and tomatoes. Using a wooden spoon, stir together and break up the mince lumps. When the mince is broken down, stir in your herbs, beef stock cubes, marmite and wine, then simmer. 




Cover and cook for 1 hr, make sure you stir the bottom occasionally to stop it burning. 

Uncover and gently simmer for another 20/30mins until the meat is tender and saucy. Season to taste.

To finish the béchamel, strain the milk through a sieve into one or two jugs. Melt the butter in the same pan then, using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour and cook for 2 mins, this will create a thick grainy paste. 

Stir in the strained milk, a bit at a time (it will be useful if you use a ladle) - the mix will thicken to a paste, but keep going have faith it'll get there, add milk gradually to avoid lumps. Add the cheese. Feel free to use a whisk at this point.




When all the milk is in, bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly (if you have lumps, give it a quick whisk). Gently bubble for a few mins until thickened to how you like your béchamel.  Season with salt, pepper and grate in the nutmeg.




Heat oven to 180C/160C. 

Spread a layer of the meat sauce over the base of a roughly 3.5 ltr dish. Cover with a single layer of pasta sheets, break them to fit right to the edges if needed, then top with a layer of the béchamel, add a sprinkle of parmesan. Spoon over another layer of the meat sauce. 




Repeat the layers until you use all the meat sauce. Add a final layer of pasta, the last of the béchamel and remaining Parmesan. 



Add the vine tomatoes on top for decoration.

Dish into the oven and bake for 1 hr until bubbling, browned and crisp on top, if it's not as desired then pop it back in the oven for another 10-20mins.




serve with loads of garlic bread and a good green salad. Yum!
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