Lasagne. One of my all-time favourite dishes. Ever.
I feel like lasagne is a part of my family like my mum or my brother, my dad or a cousin. It has featured at extended family gatherings, where my grandmother would make it with fried fish fillets inside (!), and at the get-togethers of one of my brothers’ birthdays or even mine, as we would love to ask mum to make it especially for us, all gooey with cheese and smothered in extra bolognese sauce.
I have tried making it just like my mum many times but it has always been either too wet and sloppy or not cheesy enough. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have somewhat changed, as I realise I actually prefer it more dry, with bechamel on top rather than extra sauce.
So here is my version, using pork and beef mince for extra flavour, and creamy bechamel on top.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
750g pork and beef mince
3/4 cup dry red wine
1.5 litres of tomato pasta sauce (sugo/passata)
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 cups milk
pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
375g packet of fresh lasagne sheets
400g mozzarella, grated
salt and pepper
Make the bolognese sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and then add the onion and cook for two minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the mince and brown, breaking it up as it cooks. Pour in the red wine and cook until the majority has evaporated. Add the sauce, bay leaves, salt and pepper and mixed herbs. Bring to the boil and then simmer on low heat for 1 and half hours.
Make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan until frothy – don’t let it brown. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes. Take it off the heat and add the milk gradually, whisking between each addition, ensuring the mixture is smooth. When all of the milk has been incorporated, pop the saucepan back on medium-high heat and stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about five minutes. Take it off the heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt and white pepper, and parmesan.
Assemble the lasagne. Make sure you have all your ingredients at close hand. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease a lasagne dish with some olive oil or oil spray. Cover the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup of bolognese sauce. Place your lasagne sheets over the sauce, add some grated mozzarella and salt and pepper, and then a splattering of sauce. Continue with more pasta sheets, cheese, salt and pepper and sauce until you reach the final layer of pasta sheets. Add the bechamel sauce. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the bechamel starts to turn golden.
Best served if you let it go cold and then reheat later!