Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Best-ever lasagne

On cool nights, one of hubby's favourite meals is lasagne. So I am always on the search for the best-ever recipe for it. So of course when I saw in Neil Perry's new book "Good Food" a recipe for "Best-ever lasagne", I just had to try it.
My verdict- very yummy- though not quite best ever- deliciously tomatoey though. The bechamel didn't work- maybe because I used skim milk- so I made it with an alternative recipe (though have written down Neil's original instructions). Kids would definitely love it. And my father in law thought the next day leftovers were delicious- so smiles all round.
I used de cecco Lasagne which doesn't need to be precooked- was easy and yummy.
Didn't use as much mozzarella as he prescribes- just seemed over the top.
My fabulous Italian deli on Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds minced the veal and pork on the spot for me from lovely lean cuts- so the meat was top class.
So give it a go...

Serves 6
9 lasagne sheets
500g fresh mozzarella- torn
100g freshly grated parmesan

meat sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion- finely chopped
6 garlic cloves - finely chopped
300g (10 1/2 ounces) pork mince
300g (10 1/2 ounces) veal mince
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
pinch of cster sugar
700ml (24 fl. oz.) tomato passata
400g (14 oz) tinned diced tomatoes
1 large handful basil leaves

bechamel sauce
50g ( 1 3/4 oz) unsalted butter
2 tbsp. plain flour
600ml (21 fl oz) milk
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Take a 23 x 29 x 7 cm lasagne dish.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (375 degrees F/ Gas 5)

For the meat sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, but not browned. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add both of the meats and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon for about 4 minutes, or until the meat loses its raw colour but has not browned. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then pour in the vinegar and stir occasionally till it has almost evaporated.
Add the sugar and passata and diced tomatoes and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it reduces and has started to thicken slightly. Season. Stir through the basil leaves and set the sauce aside.
To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and stir constantly over the heat, for 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the milk all at once, whisking constantly to avoid any lumps. Return the pan to the heat and continue to whisk constantly, until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
To asemble, spread one quarter of the meat sauce at the bottom of the lasagne dish. Place 3 of the lasagne sheets over the sauce. Spread another quarter of the sauce over the lasagne, followed by 1/3 of the mozarella. Continue to layer the lasagne sheets, sauce and mozarella two more times. Pour the bechamel over the final layer of mozzarella, then sprinkle evenly with the parmesan.
Cook the lasagne for 30 minutes, or until the cheese has browned and the sauce is bubbling. Remove the lasagne from the oven and let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with a simple salad.

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