After lessons in making a white sauce went so well, followed on by his cheese sauces being so well received, hubby decided to "go for it" and made his first Lasagne.
There were no corners cut, but he did adjust the recipe so that it didn't require so long to cook the sauce. It turned out to be such a beautiful Lasagne that he instantly got the job of Lasagne & Moussaka maker. He says that he can see areas where the recipe can be improved to suit our palates better, but in my opinion, this Lasagne was so gorgeous, I'd be happy if he didn't tinker with it. However, you know what us cooks are like for tinkering with recipes to "make it our own" - it's a rare thing that a recipe gets past me without my tinkering with it in some way or another.
I was particularly impressed to find that he'd even done the infusing of the milk for the bechamel. He was really intent on doing this right - and doing his first Lasagne justice.
Well, both Son & heir and myself had seconds - and if we had of had the room, would have crammed thirds in too. Fortunately though, neither of us could find the room - so hubby claimed the leftovers for his lunch the following day. Now THAT is testament to how good this Lasagne is, as it's a rare occasion that he indulges in leftovers!
LASAGNE AL FORNO (feeds 4-5) from Tamasin Day-Lewis
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 sticks celery
2 carrots, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 kg fresh minced beef
2 fresh bay leaves
225 ml milk
1/3 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
225 ml white wine
400g canned chopped tomatoes, roughly chopped
9-10 sheets pre-cooked dried lasagne sheets
90g parmesan, freshly grated
For the béchamel sauce:
2 fresh bay leaves
1 onion, halved
freshly grated nutmeg
60 g butter
60 g plain flour
|Just add parmesan and it's ready for the oven|
2. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until the beef has lost its raw pink look. Drain any fat that has accumulated, then add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Return the vegetables to the pan.
3. Add the bay leaves and milk, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the meat has absorbed the milk. Season with a pinch of nutmeg.
4. Pour in the wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes with their juice and stir thoroughly.
5. Cook, uncovered, at a lazy simmer with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface, for 3 hours or more. (Hubby didn't cook ours for anything like this long - he cooked it until the sauce was at a good consistency). The fat will have separated (Hubby cooked our mince off until the fat separated to begin with - and removed it), but the sauce will not be dry. Taste and correct the seasoning.
6. In the meantime, make the béchamel sauce. Pour the milk into a saucepan with the bay leaf, onion and a generous pinch of nutmeg. Bring to just below the boiling point, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Grease a shallow baking dish.
8. Strain the milk and set aside. The onion, herbs & spices can now be discarded. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Then gradually stir the milk into the flour mixture to make a thick smooth sauce. Season to taste.
9. Pour some béchamel into the baking dish - enough to just cover the base. Place a layer of lasagne sheets on top, followed by a layer of meat sauce, another layer of béchamel and a good handful of Parmesan. Continue with two or three more layers until both sauces are used up. Add a final sprinkling of Parmesan.
10. Bake in the oven for about 30-45 minutes until bubbling all over and a knife slips easily through the layers of lasagne.
|Lasagne & chips|