This Lasagne is made with a simple Homemade Bechamél Sauce, a rich and delicate Beef Ragù and Cheese as should be obvious. What’s not to cherish?
For a few, the prospect of making a lasagne may be somewhat overwhelming. Yet, here I’ll impart to you a few hints and deceives to making lasagne a flat out breeze. Besides, this incidentally turns out to be quite possibly the most heavenly lasagne plans on the planet.
As a matter of first importance, let me simply get my food highbrow character out the way – I have never discovered a locally acquired lasagne that comes really near a hand crafted lasagne. There, I said it.
The primary concern to note about hand crafted lasagne is that while the means are genuinely straight forward, it requires significant investment. There is nothing of the sort as a brisk lasagne, not one worth eating at any rate! (apologies, the highbrow character stops there).
- 2.2lb / 1kg Ground Beef (see notes)
- 3.5oz / 100g Pancetta, finely diced
- 2 cups / 500ml Tomato Passata (Pureed Tomatoes in USA)
- 2 cups / 500ml Beef Stock
- 1 cup / 250ml Red Wine
- 2 ribs of Celery, finely diced
- 2 medium Carrots, grated on a box grater
- 1 large White Onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in USA)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/4 cup each: Fresh Basil, Fresh Parsley, finely diced (plus extra to garnish)
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1.5 tsp Sugar, or to taste
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Olive Oil, as needed
- 4 cups / 1 litre Milk, at room temp
- 5 tbsp Plain Flour
- 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 small Nutmeg, grated
- 3.5oz / 100g Parmesan, grated (save some to top)
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 12oz / 350g Fresh Lasagne Sheets (see notes)
- 2 cups / 200g Mozzarella, shredded
- Drizzle around 1 tbsp olive oil into a large pot over medium heat. Add beef, break it up with a wooden spoon and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to fry until fully browned, then pour into your lasagne dish (discarding any excess fat).
- Add Pancetta and fry until it releases fat and begins to brown. Add onion, celery and carrot, and continue frying until they soften and begin to brown. Add garlic at the last minute, then add your tomato puree (tomato paste).
- Fry tomato puree for a few mins, then deglaze with your wine. Allow the wine to reduce for a few mins, then add back in your beef. Stir to coat beef.
- Pour in your beef stock, tomato passata, parsley, basil, oregano, bay leaves, 1 tsp sugar, salt & pepper (to taste). Turn heat to low, pop on a lid and allow to simmer for at least 1 hour 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Then take off lid and allow the sauce to reduce, another 20-30mins should be fine. Meanwhile…
- Melt your butter in a suitably sized pot over medium heat. Add flour, then stir into a paste.
- Gradually pour in your milk, whisking as you go to ensure lumps don’t form. Allow the sauce to simmer away for 5-10mins to thicken, then add your nutmeg, parmesan and salt & pepper (to taste). Stir to combine, taste for seasoning, then remove from heat.
- You want the sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not so thick it won’t pour.
- Pre heat oven to 356f/180c
- In a 9×13″ (or close to) baking dish, spread a few spoons of ragu. This is so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- Your layers will then go as follows: Pasta sheets, Ragu, Bechamel Sauce, Mozzarella. The last layer will be pasta sheets, then Bechamel, then mozzarella and parmesan to top. That’s 4 layers of pasta, 4 layers of Ragu (including very bottom layer), 4 layers of Bechamel and 4 layers of mozzarella.
- Pop in the oven for 30-40mins or until the surface is deep golden (Some ‘burnt’ parts are fine, extra flavour). Let it sit for at least 15mins. This is important or it will be too liquidy. That and it’ll burn the roof of your mouth off.
- Serve with an extra sprinkle of basil or parsley. Enjoy!
- Pancetta Sub – If you’re struggling to find pancetta, finely diced bacon will work fine instead.
- Sugar – Start off with 1 tsp, then taste test after it’s simmered and reduced. You’ll find the flavour changes quite drastically after the ragu is fully cooked, so adjust accordingly then.
- Consistency – It’s imperative that you reduce the Ragu AND the Bechamel sauce. For the Ragu, if there is a layer of water on top whilst it simmers, it needs more reducing. For the Bechamel sauce, you need to be able to comfortably coat the back of a wooden spoon. If both are too watery, the lasagne is going to come out the oven overly sloppy.
- Baking Dish – 9×13″ is a great size for lasagnes and gives you 4 pasta layers. Feel to use a smaller, but deeper dish and add more layers.
- Fresh Lasagne Sheets vs Dried – I always go fresh (find in fresh pasta section in supermarket. I prefer the texture and the lasagne stays intact better (not so wavey). If you’ve got dried then check the packet to see if you need to cook before hand. If you don’t need to cook them then don’t reduce the ragu so much (the dried sheets will suck up more liquid than fresh).
- Beef – I usually go for 10-12% fat. Gives a bit of fatty flavour but not so much the ragu goes oily. If you’ve only got very fat beef, say 20%, drain away most of the fat after it’s fried.
- Heavy Top Lid – Needs to be heavy so the steam doesn’t escape otherwise it’ll reduce too quickly.
- Make Ahead – This is perfect to make in advance! Just make sure the ragu and bechamel sauce cools before you assemble, or the pasta will start to cook and come out super soft and mushy after it’s baked. Cool, cover and store in the fridge 24hours before needed then bake at same temp. You might need to add 5-10mins mins onto baking time or allow to come back up to room temp. You can also store in the freezer, then thaw in the fridge overnight and bake accordingly (make sure centre is piping hot!).
- Leftovers – Store in the fridge for 2-3days or freezer and reheat in the oven at the same temp until piping hot through the centre (if freezing thaw in fridge over night then bake).
- Calories – per serving