Lasagne or Passiccio (loosely translated as a delicious mess)
I made lasagne on the weekend and we ate it on Tuesday night. As usual it was more passiccio (mess) than your store bought lasagne that offers a tidy tower of layers, but the flavours were delicious. I've some ideas to try to firm the next one up, so this recipe is a combination of what I did and what I think I should have done (and will be doing next time).
For the ragout:
Good lug of olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
500g veal mince (pork is ok as well)
500g beef mince
1 onion - finely chopped
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1 large carrot - finely chopped
1 red capsicum - finely chopped
2 stalks celery - finely chopped
1 large zuccini - finley chopped
1 bottle passata
1 can chopped tomatoes
I can cannelini beans - drained
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
4 bay leaves
1/2 bunch basil - finely chopped
For the bechamel sauce:
1 l milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large non stick pan and season with salt, pepper and oregano. Add onion and garlic and fry over a medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add carrot, capsicum, celery and zuccini and fry for a couple of minutes. Add both types of mince and stir regularly to break up the mince, brown evenly and combine with the vegetables.
Once the meat is brown add the passata and tinned tomatoes and stir through. Add the cannelini beans, stock, wine and bay leaves, stir through and cover. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to low with the lid tipped. Cook slowly for about an hour stirring regularly. When it's ready the sauce should be thick and rich, with almost all of the liquid reduced. Stir the basil through and cook without the lid for another 5 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow to cool.
Once the ragout is cool begin preparing the bechamel sauce. Start by heating the milk in the microwave for 3 - 5 minutes until it's quite warm. While the milk is heating melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add the flour, salt and pepper to the melted butter and stir until smooth. Make sure the heat is very low. gradually whisk in hot milk ensuring all lumps are broken up. Turn the heat up to medium and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring regularly. Continue stirring over heat until the sauce is thick. Add the nutmeg and 1/2 cup of parmesan, stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to stand while you layer the lasagne.
Lightly grease the dish and add a layer of lasagne sheets, ensuring the dish is fully covered. Add a thin layer of ragout and another layer of pasta (make sure the sheets face the opposite way to the other layer) and add another layer of ragout. Continue until you are out of sauce (or space in the dish). Finish with a a layer of pasta, a good layer of bechamel, and a the rest of the grated parmesan.
Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180C and put the lasagne in uncovered for 35 - 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the top golden and crisp. Turn the oven off and allow the lasagne to sit in the oven for 10 minutes before serving - this will help it set.
Fingers crossed this gives you a delicious lasagne that holds together - give it a go and let me know. Nic x