I made an absolutely epic Lasagne last night from (almost) scratch, having purchased pre ground meat, pre made (fresh refrigerated) lasagne sheets and pre made/manufactured ingredients: red wine, Worcestershire sauce and fresh whole mozzarella and parmesan (I grate myself yo) also have been practicing my dicing and chopping game with onion and garlic and carrot and celery. I am a bit OCD and use Science safety glasses pictured to reduce crying with the onion (can also pre freeze onion (1 hr ish) as its a volatile gas which irritates the eye):
Pro Tip: I go slow (about 20 mins total time) with chopping to get it as fine as possible I aim for 5 mm^2 (squared) or less for onion slivers and garlic (I use fresh and slice after crushing to remove the husk) I go very thin and in quarters for the carrot and celery and use approx 6 stalks of celery and 1 med/lge carrot.
Next I blend some baby spinach (200 g or so) leaves up to puree level, cook all the veg in a pot with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and after softened/browned, add tomato paste concentrate (reasonably fresh fridge kind), crushed canned tomatoes and to this I add the meat.
For the meat I use 1 kg of ground meat (1/2 and 1/2 pork and beef, leanest mince for pork, full fat for beef, I also add 200g or so diced pancetta or bacon). The meat is browned with paprika (smoked is best) dried Italian herbs, salt, pepper and after about 5 mins the red wine (1 cup – we used a red blend, not too pricey but not the cheapest bottles either – blessed to live in AUS with great reds reasonably cheap to access anywhere!) After stewing the meat I transfer all from frying pan to big pot with veg. Cover with lid and simmer 20 mins approx. (very impt to stir regularly at all stages!)
While simmer is on, prep an initially béchamel sauce (white) with 2 table spoons flour, in the same of butter (pre softened unless you’re a champ like me and never refrigerate it anyways – I also exclusively buy pure unsalted butter, none of the canola oil etc. in it.) the idea is to combine the flour and butter (pre melted and flour added slowly and stirred vigorously to ‘cook’ before adding PRE WARMED full cream milk (approx. 1.5 cups or 400 ml (ish) and stirring to combine. (I warm the milk in separate saucepan 1st on low for 5 mins or so feeling side of pot until uncomfortable (approx. 55 – 60 deg C)) to the milk mixture I add crumbled up (hand broken from wad/ball, mozzarella slowly stirring to combine – approx. 150 g) as well as approx. 30 g of grated parmesan, a generous sprinkling of ground/dried nutmeg and more than you think you need, freshly cracked black pepper. I also unwrap the packet lasagne x 8 sheets, then re-wrap in cling wrap (glad/saran wrap for UK/US audience), microwave 30 s, leave sit 1 min more then unwrap and layer with everything in oven dish w/min 6 cm deep sides – the deeper the better!
The layering is important! Start with a little olive oil on base (smear around w/paper towel incl on sides. (Pre heat oven to 180 deg C too at this point). The base layer should be MEAT SAUCE/RAGU then cover with 1 x layer pasta which is not overlapping at any point more than 1 – 2 mm, cut to size of pan as required (trust me, it’s worth the effort as overly sandwiching layers makes them dry and unappealing). Then I do 1st cheese sauce layer thin, approx 1 – 2 mm thick, more meat sauce, more pasta, more meat sauce, more cheese sauce (here’s where I stop with the listed ingredients above (it’s about 16 cm x 12 cm in my oven dish, adjust for your own, can do thicker lasagne with more layers in a smaller surface area but it may take longer to cook.) I top with reserved and pre-grated cheese blend (mozzarella and parmesan – I buy the genuine made in Italy kind and you can totally taste the difference with the parmesan in particular), then bake for 20 – 25 mins (more if it’s humid as less water will have cooked off in process so far if so – you want a reasonable time for cooking of pasta and for melting of cheese)
Then serve w/fresh garden salad if you can be arsed (we have a 2 y/o so I literally just cut it up and we eat that with more red wine and that’s it)!
I reserve about half the total to the freezer and it’s enough for generous serves both nights (2 adults and 1 toddler) but its definitely a family meal suitable for sharing (4 – 5 adults could polish off nicely in 1 sitting).
HAPPY COOKING PEOPLE!