Tag Archives: white sauce

Rich and Creamy Lasagne

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!

Other ingredients

  • 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.

Lasagne veg

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.

Lasagne sauce

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.

Lasagne uncooked

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.

Lasagne cooked

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!

Lasagne served

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Smoked Haddock and Leek Fishcakes

Prepare yourselves… this recipe gets a little bit cheffy. We know our usual style is bang it all in a roasting dish and then, 1 hour later, dish yourself up a plate of goodness but sometimes you want to fancy things up a bit. This makes a lovely smaller dinner for two, or would make a beautiful starter if you only served 1 fishcake per person. The fishcakes themselves are a straight steal from Nigel Slater but we’ve gone and done one better (sorry Nige!) and created a beautiful smoky white sauce to serve with them. So next time you have a certain someone to impress, or just fancy gettin’ cheffy with it give these a go!

Ingredients

  • 400g floury white potatoes (about 1 large potato)
  • 400g leeks, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 300g undyed smoked haddock fillet
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Wilted spinach to serve

Cut the potato into chunks and cook in boiling water for around 10-15 minutes or until soft. Heat 1 tsp of the butter in a frying pan and add the leeks, slowly sweat down and cook until really soft and sweet. Once the potato is cooked drain it and then place in a bowl to cool for a few minutes. Bring the milk to the point of steaming in a small pan with the bay leaves and the peppercorns and then add the smoked haddock, cut it into several pieces to make sure it fits in and is covered by the milk. Place a lid on this, let the milk come to the boil and then turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes, the haddock will be perfectly cooked and flaky at this point.Take the haddock out and leave until cool enough to handle on a board. Do not throw away the milk. This is where we and Nigel part ways, he makes no mention of the milk but we thought we couldn’t throw away this little goldmine of flavour so hang on to it, you’ll need it later. Strain it into a jug to remove the bay leaves, peppercorn and any little flakes of fish that have escaped.

Fishcake mixture

Crush the slightly cooled potatoes with a fork until there are no large lumps remaining but don’t worry about getting them perfectly smooth, these fishcakes are rustic and rough textured. Mix in half of the leeks and flake the fish in, discarding the skin. Shape into patties (we did 4 but you could make them smaller or bigger as you like) and set aside.

Heat most of the remaining butter (about 2 tbsp) in the pan you cooked the fish in (give it a quick wipe with a bit of kitchen roll) and once bubbling add an equal amount of plain flour to create a roux. Cook this for a couple of minutes to get rid of the floury taste and then start to add the milk that you saved earlier. Add this bit by bit, whisking well in between until all of it has been added. Keep this over a low heat stirring regularly to thicken.

Fishcakes cooking

Now just fry your fishcakes – everything in them is already cooked so they just need a bit of colour on the outside. Heat the remaining butter with a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan (we used the one we used to cook the leeks earlier to save on washing up!) and when hot add the fishcakes. They will take a couple of minutes on each side over a medium heat. Try not to mess around with them and turn them too much, they are fairly fragile so avoid flipping them as much as possible.

Once they are golden pop a bit of wilted spinach on a plate and top with the remaining leeks and a dollop of the thickened white sauce. Place your fishcakes on and drizzle over the rest of the sauce. Serve with a glass of white wine and Instagram your cheffy creation!

Fishcakes with spinach and white sauce