Lasagna, a family favourite


Lasagna. Delicious, flavoursome and a wonderful family meal.

Served with a side salad and garlic bread this humble dish becomes a meal to remember.

I often try to make a tray of lasagna (in one of those disposeable silver foil dishes) and keep it in the freezer for an easy night off and if you come to my house for dinner lasagna is something I like to serve as it’s tasty, filling and enjoyable.

Here is my version of this humble dish.

A few tips to make things easy.

Prepare the meat sauce in the morning, I like to cook it on low for approx four hours to really let the flavours develop. Before you think gosh four hours, do it on a day you are spending at home. Your sauce will need nothing more than an occasional stir so you can get many other tasks done while it’s cooking.

Once the lasagna is assembled cover and pop in the fridge and let the flavours develop until you are ready to bake it for dinner. I like to remove it from the fridge 20 minutes before baking to bring it to temperature. This resting period I personally think makes it taste better.

Ok so here is the recipe.

Ingredients

Beef sauce

2 red onions diced

500g beef mince I like to buy extra lean as there is no excess fat

2 700ml jars passata sauce

6 or so fresh basil leaves washed and left whole

3 tablespoons olive oil

750mls chicken stock

Salt and pepper

1 packet fresh lasagna sheets

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup shaved parmesean cheese

Cheese sauce

3 tablespoons butter

3-4 cups milk

1/3 cup plain flour

1/2 cup finely grated parmesean cheese
Method

Place oil and onions in a big pot and cook on low until onions become transparent.

Add your extra lean mince to the pot and cook stirring until mince has completely changed colour from red to brown.

Now add your passata sauce and basil leaves, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and the chicken stock.

Mix well and place lid onto the pot leaving it slightly ajar. Cook on low and check every half hour or so, more often as the liquid reduces and sauce becomes thicker. When the sauce has thickened right up and most of the liquid has been absorbed it’s ready. Check for salt and adjust if necessary.

Now onto the cheese sauce

Put the butter into a medium sized pot and melt it down on a low heat. Add flour and stir, cooking off until bubbles appear. This will take roughly 1 to 2 minutes. Now very slowly add the milk little bit by little bit and whisk it in. Keep the heat on very low. Continue to add milk and whisk until the milk has been used up and sauce is a thickish consistency. Add your parmesean cheese and whisk in. Set aside and get ready to assemble!

Ok so grab a large baking dish and I like to start by putting some sauce on the bottom and spreading it around. 2 ladles full is what I would normally do.

Now layer some lasagna sheets onto the sauce and cover this with a decent amount of meat sauce. I like it to be enough so it’s not transparent and so it covered the pasta (1 to 1.5 cm thickness as a rough guide). Sprinkle with some mozzarella and cover with lasagna sheets again. Repeat meat sauce and mozzarella cheese step then cover with another layer of pasta sheets.  Spread the cheese sauce over the top and gently smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Cover with a sprinkle of parmesean cheese and it’s ready to bake or at this point put in the freezer for an easy weeknight dinner.

Bake for approx 45 minutes at 180 degrees in a preheated oven. Lasagna will be golden and gorgoues when it’s ready. Let the lasagna sit for approx 2 minutes before cutting and serving. I like to top with a few fresh basil leaves to serve as pictured.

Note- if freezing lasagna please ensure it has thawed completely before baking.

Also if you haven’t got four hours to cook your meat sauce you could turn the heat up and the liquid will absorb faster but the flavour of the tomato won’t be the same so please keep this in mind. I highly recommend low and slow and this is the way I cook it.

For a lasagna with a twist you could add some frozen baby peas to the meat sauce and when assembling your lasagna you could add some thinly sliced ham over the meat sauce in between layers. This is how my Nonna would have made hers and even put some sliced hard boiled eggs in the layers too!

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