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Sunday, 29 July 2012

LASAGNE

Good Morning to you,

There are so many recipes for Lasagne,  I wasn't sure I should include my version, but then I realised, that is what it is, my version, of a well known dish.

Some would say Lasagne is "old hat" and very 70's, this may be so, but what does that matter.  If a dish is tasty and enjoyable, then fashion doesn't come into it.

As a home cook I  adapt recipes, to include a little more of "this" and a little less of "that", to cater to my  families tastes. Isn't that what home cooking is all about! 

I have cooked this recipe for years, but do you know I "just" cook it, ( I can hear Natasha whispering in my ear, "Mum you don't "just", it takes knowledge and experience"), but all you mums out there will know what I mean.   I don't weigh and measure, I make it without thinking, but for you I have sat down and weighed and recorded the ingredients.  So without further ado this is my version of Lasagne.



The Meat Sauce




3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 - 3 cloves of garlic (depends on your taste buds)
1 carrot - chopped into 3 chunks
1 celery stalk - cut into 4 chunks
900g/ 2lb of lean minced beef
300 ml / 1/2  pint  of red wine
125 ml / 4fl oz   of milk
1 x 425 g/ 14oz  of tin tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
(dried if you don't have fresh)
Salt and Pepper


THE CHEESE SAUCE



700 ml/1 1/4 pint of milk
75g / 3 oz  butter
75g / 3 oz  flour
Salt and Pepper
Grated Nutmeg
75g /3 oz  grated Parmesan Cheese
or
Grana Padona Cheese
75g /3 oz  grated Mature Cheddar Cheese


METHOD


Pre-heat oven 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4
1 rectangle dish 12" x 10" (smaller if you prefer more layers to the  lasagne)
15 (approx) of dried lasagne sheets
Cooking time 45 minutes



Put olive oil into the pan, along with chopped onions and cook until golden in colour.



 Remove onions from the pan and set aside.


Using the same pan, brown the beef.  Stir every so often to make sure all the beef is browned.


Add the red wine and bring the mixture to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the wine has evaporated.  It is the flavour you want and not the alcohol content.


Add the garlic, oregano and the onions which were set aside and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the milk to the mixture and stir.  Continue cooking until the milk has been absorbed.


Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 1/2 pints of water, or stock if preferred.



Add the celery and carrot.  They have been cut into chunks as it is the flavour of the celery and carrot we want.  At the end of the cooking time they will be removed.  

Add 1 teaspoon of sugar, this cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes.

When cooked check the seasoning, if more salt is required add now.

CHEESE SAUCE


Melt the butter in a pan.


Add the flour and stir.  Cook over a gentle heat for 2 minutes to make sure the flour is cooked.


Add the milk, yes all of it, it won't be lumpy as long as you whisk continuously.  Add the grated nutmeg and salt then whisk until thick and glossy.


Add the Cheddar Cheese and  Parmesan Cheese, or  Grana Padona Cheese. Whisk until melted. I find taking the sauce off the heat , adding the cheese and whisking allows the cheese to melt, without the sauce catching on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.


LAYERING THE LASAGNE


Place a little meat sauce in the base of the dish.



Place lasagne sheets on top, try to cover most of the base of the dish.

Cover the lasagne sheets with meat sauce.



Continue layering with lasagne sheets and meat sauce.  You might need to do a little patchwork, as the lasagne sheets don't fit exactly.

The final layer will be lasagne sheets.

Place the dish onto a baking sheet, this will make it easier to take to the oven when filled with the cheese sauce.


Add the cheese sauce over the top of the lasagne sheets.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, I usually check after 40 to make sure the Lasagne is golden in colour.


Due to the lighting the lasagne looks darker than it actually was......honestly!



Do try this recipe, as I know it will become one of your family favourites.  Cook it the way I have shown you, then  next time you make it,  you can adjust the taste to suit you and your family. Please let me know how you get on with this dish as I would love to hear.

Apologies to my American friends, I need to familiarise myself more with American weights to be sure I give you the correct amount, as I find it confusing ie weight of meat in cups is different to weight of flour in cups.  I will master this I promise.

Just a thought, this Lasagne freezes well.   Cook the same amount as I have and then cut it into portions  and freeze for days when you are too busy to cook.  If you decide to do this, make a little extra meat sauce and freeze in portion sizes, just enough to add moisture to your lasagne when you cook in the oven. 


See you Wednesday, take care until then.


Best Wishes,




Daphne xxx

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