I just love lasagne but it is something I do not often make and I do not know why, perhaps it is the thought of having to make so much béchamel sauce in one go that puts me off. Just recently, my cousin, Jennifer reminded me of a great lasagne recipe I used to make years ago – one of those foolproof recipes that everyone has the right size pan for. Not only is it extremely tasty, just like lasagne should be, but also the yield is accurate and any leftovers freeze well.
Freezing leftovers is a pleasure knowing one day soon we will enjoy a delicious lunch or supper and the only work involved will be the opening of the microwave door after the ding. With days turning cooler lasagne is warming, soothing, and good for the soul.
This recipe fits exactly into a pan 34cm x 24cm x 7cm deep
Ingredients for the meat sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 kilos best mince
2 large onions, diced
750gm tinned tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
3 beef stock cubes
1 green pepper, diced
dash red wine
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Oregano to taste
Basil to taste
750g mozzarella, grated
1.5 x 500g boxes pre-cooked lasagne
Method for the meat sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on gently heat and brown the onion, add the mince and brown this too then add the diced pepper and all the rest of the ingredients except the herbs the mozzarella and the lasagne sheets. Simmer for one hour. Add the fresh herbs, stir them in well then remove the saucepan from the heat. Remove all traces of fat when the dish is cold. Refrigerate and remove from the fridge one hour before making up the lasagne.
Ingredients for the béchamel sauce:
1 onion, peeled and studded with 6 cloves
5 cups milk
8 tablespoons butter
¾-cup plain flour
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
Method for the béchamel sauce:
Pour the milk into a medium size saucepan with the studded onion and the bay leaf and gently bring to the boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to cool – allowing the sauce to infuse the flavourings. Do this at least ¾ hour before making up the lasagne. In another medium size saucepan melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook over a low heat without letting it colour for 1 minute. Remove the onion from the milk and discard the bay leaf. Gradually add the milk to the roux, stirring continuously. Place the onion back in the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes on a very low heat. Remove and discard the onion, add the seasonings, nutmeg and thyme.
To make up: Lightly grease the dish. Make alternating layers of béchamel sauce, lasagne, meat sauce, cheese, lasagne and repeat. End with cheese. Cook for 40 minutes at 180C until golden brown and bubbling.