They say good things come to those who wait. Well, this is good, but you’re going to have to take your time. If you can be bothered though, it’s one of the nicest meals you will ever make. – I promise you!
Top Tip: Make this properly & take your time. Don’t skimp on the ingredients. This is a pretty expensive dish working out to about £2.50 per head, but this is a special dinner. Good quality eggs, tipo flour will help make your pasta delicious, seasoning with good quality parmesan will make it sing. Do cook the sauce the day before, it’s really important. Use good quality red wine. Make sure you add pork fat & allow the time to break it down.
Your lasagne is going to be made up of a two day schedule. Making the Bolognese meat sauce the day before, making fresh pasta and béchamel sauce on the day and in between that lots of love and attention.
So onto the ingredients;
For the Pasta
- Eggs (freerange – a must)
- Flour (Tipo or 00 Gauge, a must)
For the Bolognese Sauce
- Up to 1KG of either self-minced beef or good quality British Farmed beef
- 4 Carrots
- 12 medium size tomatoes (differing colours and types if you can)
- Tomato Puree
- Tomato Ketchup (really!)
- 2 large cooking Onions
- 1 large celery stick
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- Chilli Powder
- Good quality red wine
- OXO stock cube or concentrated beef stock
- Some fatty pork (maybe a couple of pork sausages)
- Seasoning including Rosemary, Bay, Chilli
- Oyster Mushrooms
- Fresh parmesan (please spend the money & buy a block of decent hard parmesan)
- A decent English Cheddar
- Plain flour (for the béchamel)
Making the sauce.
Get yourself a nice big crockpot or pan that you can put on the stove. Get it on full whack and heating up. Now slice up your carrots, celery, onions (the holy trinity) and season with a little salt and black pepper. Add a glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil and a little butter and let them sweat then off for a few minutes. Once they have started breaking down, add the tomatoes (sliced) and a good fistful of tomato puree & a good ol ‘ squeeze of the ketchup. (the ketchup adds a sweetness and richness).
Now you can chop up the garlic cloves and add those, a little more pepper and put the lid on and let this break down for 15 minutes. You should start to ever so slightly lose the shape of the vegetables but not-quite.
Whilst you’re waiting on the above, either mince your meat or get it out and up to room temperature. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary, along with rubbing in either a stock cube or two (depending on how much meat) and sauté and brown off in a separate pan, adding the red wine until you’ve burnt it off. You want the meat to still be firm and almost under-cooked. Now add your pork fat, (chop up the sausage meat into it for example) and once it’s all browned off add to your sauce in the other pan. Throw in a tin of chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer for now more than thirty minutes. Keep checking the taste, and season accordingly. Finally add chilli powder, a little more garlic and leave to cool. Now add the Oyster mushrooms. These will suck up all the sauce & expand.
Once it’s cool put it into an airtight container and refrigerate until the following day. (this is where the flavours intensify and the sauce becomes much richer and flavoursome).
Making the Pasta
Make this on the day, two hours or so before you need it. Get the mince out the fridge and let that come up to room temperature before making the pasta. Get it on the stove, cooking low and slow from this point onwards.
Make your pasta using 140G of flour to one egg and one egg yolk per two sheets of lasagne. I use the well method and then roll it using a decent hand-cranked pasta machine. Remember to work your pasta on a wooden board (not metal or granite) and once rolled & cut to shape, place on slightly damp tea towels to firm up slightly before your assembly job.
Top Tip: I find taking the pasta down to about 6 at the most is enough, thinner than that and it’ll melt when it cooks.
Making the Béchamel
Now make your sauce by melting butter & flour in a pan to make a simple Roux. (don’t overcook this part, it will stop the flour from thickening). Now add the milk, a few peppercorns and a bay leaf. Mix until the liquid is just under boiling & then add lots of English Cheddar to thicken up. Keep this warm. You MUST STIR CONSTANTLY whilst you are making it if you want a glossy sauce.
Assembly & Cooking
Get yourself a nice oven bake tray and run a layer of the meat sauce and then top with lasagne sheets. Now add béchamel, cheese, another layer of meat & repeat. Try & do at least seven layers. Your top layer should be béchamel, sprinkle with English Cheddar, a few slices of Beef Tomatoes and a few bay leaves and cook low & slow. 40 minutes to let it cook & melt. Then grill for a final ten minutes after you’ve added some more cheese to really brown the top off.
You can serve this with a nice crispy fresh salad, some focaccia or garlic bread & a decent bottle of red wine.