Lasagne gets its name from the wide, flat pasta sheets used in the dish. Originating from Naples, this traditional meal is not only an Italian classic, but a British family favourite too.
Traditional lasagne recipes include pancetta, which we’ve included in ours. However this otherwise simple lasagne recipe has a tasty twist with the addition of chicken livers.
- 450g/1lb lean beef mince
- 50g/2oz pancetta cubes or streaky bacon, finely chopped
- 50g/2oz chicken livers, roughly chopped
- 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small sprig fresh thyme
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 300ml/1/2 pint good, hot beef stock
- 5ml/1tsp caster sugar
- 30ml/2tbsp tomato puree
- 100ml/3 1/2 floz good red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 30ml/2tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 5ml/1tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly milled black pepper
- For the bechamel sauce:*
- 25g/1oz butter
- 25g/1oz plain flour
- 425ml/ 3/4 pint milk
- 75g/3oz grated hard cheese, e.g Cheddar
- 25g/1oz Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 x 250g/9oz pack fresh lasagne sheets
Instructions:Heat a large non-stick pan and dry fry the mince with the pancetta and chicken livers for 3-4 minutes until brown, breaking up any lumps with the back of a spoon. Transfer to a large bowl. Pan fry the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in the same frying pan for 2-3 minutes.
Add the remaining ragu ingredients, bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig.
Meanwhile, to make the cheese sauce. heat the butter in a non-stick pan until foaming and separately pre-heat the milk. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour. Then slowly add the milk, return to the heat and cook until thickened, stirring continuously. Add the cheese and season if required.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5, 190 deg C, 375 deg F. Place a layer of lasagne sheets in the base of a 25cm/10inch square ovenproof dish. Spoon half the ragu mixture over the pasta, then half the cheese sauce. Repeat with another layer of lasagne and ragu, then finish with a final layer of lasagne sheets and sauce. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and serve with a mixed salad and garlic bread.
Top tips for simple lasagne
Béchamel sauce (or “white sauce”) is delicious, but can be fiddly. A top tip for cutting down prep time is to pre-heat your milk before adding it to the mixture.
You will want to avoid lumpy lasagne sauce, so make sure you remove the pan from heat when adding your flour, otherwise those lumps will be hard to dissolve!
As an alternative, if preferred, replace the lasagne sheets with corn tortillas or wraps and cook at Gas Mark 7, 220°C, 425°F. for 15-20 minutes.
Images courtesy of AHDB. www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk
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