In keeping with the 80’s theme of this month’s edition and by popular demand, I jumped at the chance of cooking my favourite Ragu recipe and made a Lasagne. This is usually the kind of dish that comes to everyone’s mind when friends are coming for dinner. Who doesn’t like Lasagne…? It’s tasty and very easy to make and can be prepared ahead, giving you plenty of quality time to spend with friends instead of the pots and pans.
450g minced beef
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 large onion (finely chopped)
1 large carrot (peeled and grated)
2 large celery sticks (peeled and grated)
1 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
300ml red wine
freshly ground salt & pepper to taste
65g medium cheddar cheese (grated)
35g parmesan cheese (finely grated)
pinch of ground nutmeg
6 x lasagne sheets
Pre-heat oven to 200c fan assisted / gas mark 7.
1.To make the Ragu, heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over a moderate heat. Fry the garlic until brown. Add the finely chopped onion, grated carrot and celery, fry until they have softened then make a well in the centre of the pan and add the minced beef (breaking the mince as you add to the pan using your hands or a wooden spoon). It is important that the meat is not in large clump so make sure the meat have separated finely. Allow the meat to brown, mix with the other ingredients in the pan, season with salt & pepper. Once the meat has browned, add the oregano, stir. Then add the tomato puree and stir thru making sure that the everything is coated and red in colour. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until it has reduced slightly and the alcohol cooks off. Add the chopped tomatoes, stir and leave to simmer for 10 minutes (if the sauce starts to dry, add a little water while it simmers). Add the milk and stir thru. Turn off the heat and set aside.
2.To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan over a gentle heat. Add the flour and using a wooden spoon, stir to form a paste. Add a little of the milk at a time, whisking as you add to prevent any lumps forming. Season with salt & pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Allow the sauce to cook for another minute. Add the grated cheddar cheese, stir in the sauce evenly and remove from heat.
3.Spoon half of the meat sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and place the first 3 pasta sheets on top. Pour half of the cheese sauce on top, spread evenly using a wooden spoon or spatula before adding the rest of the meat on top. Add the final layer of pasta sheets and pour over the remaining cheese sauce, spreading evenly. Finish with grated parmesan and a little seasoning of salt & pepper. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve while hot with a side salad and garlic bread to mop up the meaty sauce.