Lasagne is a bit deceptive – you think “Ah just a bit of meat sauce here, some cheese sauce there, bit of pasta, job done!” but it takes a bit of love and care to get a really good lasagne. And some days there really is nothing better than a really good lasagne! This one is a proper stick-to-the-ribs-er, a slowly reduced sauce made with a mixture of pork and beef mince, red wine and herbs, and a smooth cheese sauce with an extra cheesy layer on top! Bird made this while watching Lady & The Tramp… maybe it added a little Italian flair?
Ingredients for the meat sauce
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1-2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
- 125g pork mince
- 125g beef mince
- 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
- 1 small glass of red wine
- 1 carton/jar of passata
- Salt and pepper to season
Ingredients for the white/cheese sauce
- 1.5 tbsp butter
- 1.5-2 tbsp plain flour
- Around 1 pint of milk
- Grated cheese, we used cheddar but parmesan would be lovely too – as much or as little as you like!
- Lasagne sheets
- Salad to serve
To start make the meat sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan/wok and when hot add the onion, carrot and celery. Let these sweat down for around five minutes and then add the garlic and herbs.
Cook for a further 10 minutes until everything is softened but not coloured. Add in the meat, breaking it up a bit with your hands as you do so, and then the stock and the wine.
Let the meat brown slightly, then tip in the passata, stir, season and leave to bubble on the lowest heat possible, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Ours took the best part of an hour to fully reduce, you want to be able to draw a wooden spoon through it and be able to see the bottom of the pan cleanly otherwise your lasagne will end up as a big sloppy mess!
To make the cheese sauce simply make a roux by melting the butter in a small saucepan – once melted throw in the flour and stir together to form a paste (the roux). Cook this for a few minutes over a low heat, stirring continuously and then start adding the milk. If you wanted to make this the fanciest, best lasagne you could ever dream of them you could heat your milk with a bay leaf studded to an onion with a clove and some peppercorns for extra flavour but it still tastes amazing without all of that faff. Keep slowly adding the milk making sure it’s completely combined before adding the next lot. Now cook over a low heat, stirring continuously until it has thickened, then switch the heat off. Now it’s time to add the cheese! We like to have the sauce in the layers not be too cheesy, so we only added a small handful to start with and stirred it in to melt.
Now you’re ready to layer. We started with meat sauce, then cheese sauce, then lasagne and so on finishing with an extra thick layer of cheese sauce! For the final bit of cheese sauce we stirred in a whole load more cheese and then grated some extra on top for a really golden-brown, cheesy topping. The lasagne will take about 45 minutes in the oven at 180C to become gorgeous and bubbly and golden.
Take it out of the oven and let it stand for five minutes (the longest five minutes of your life!) and then serve with a salad and the rest of the red wine… delicious!