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LASAGNE

Lasagne For this recipe, use a deep, rectangular dish about 20 × 25 centimetres wide and about 6 centimetres deep.

lasagna sheets (preferably fresh)
meat ragout:
about 70 g thinly sliced smoked bacon or pancetta
(olive oil)
about 150 ml finely chopped onion
about 100 ml finely diced carrot
about 100 ml finely diced stalk celery
2 - 4 garlic cloves or ½ single clove garlic
500 g ground lean beef (or substitute part of the beef with ground pork)
about 300 ml hot beef or chicken stock
about 70 g tomato paste
black pepper
1 rosemary twig
1 - 2 thyme twigs
1 - 2 bay leaves
(fresh or dried oregano, or other herbs)
béchamel sauce:
40 g butter
3 - 4 tbsp coarse wheat flour
600 ml whole milk
white pepper
(dash of grated nutmeg)
about 70 - 100 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
about 70 - 100 g grated flavourful cheese (
eg Gruyère, Emmental, Gouda)

Besides unflavoured lasagna sheets, you may use pasta sheets flavoured and dyed with spinach, tomato etc. If you have a pasta machine, you can make your own fresh pasta sheets, just follow the simple instructions given here.

Meat ragout:
Cut the bacon slices crosswise in thin strips and slowly heat them in a large skillet or shallow pan to release some fat. Add the onion and the chopped garlic and stir and sauté them in the rendered fat on medium heat until the onion is translucent (if the bacon is not very fatty, pour in a dash of olive oil before adding the onions). Add the carrot and the celery and continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes longer.

Turn the heat to maximum and crumble in the ground meat. Stir and cook the meat on high heat until it is no longer pink and all the moisture has evaporated. Pour in the hot stock and add the tomato paste and the spices and herbs. Stir the mixture, lower the heat and cover the pan with lid. Slowly simmer the ragout for at least one hour, preferably longer (2 - 4 hours), stirring every now and then. Add some more stock, if the mixture seems to dry out. Remove the twigs of rosemary and thyme and the bay leaves at the end of cooking.

Béchamel sauce:
While the meat ragout is simmering, start preparing the béchamel sauce (about 30 minutes to 1 hour before the ragout will be ready). Mix the grated cheeses, cover and set aside. In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk slowly to the boil, stirring regularly to prevent burning on the bottom.

Meanwhile, in another large saucepan, slowly melt the butter without letting it brown. Whisk the flour into the butter a little at a time, until a smooth paste is formed. (Depending on the type of flour you use, you might need to use a bit more than the amount stated in the recipe.) Increase the heat and let the mixture bubble for about 2 minutes, stirring continually. Do not let the mixture brown. Take the pan off the heat. As soon as the bubbling ceases, pour in the boiling hot milk, whisking vigorously.

Place the pan back on the stove and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring continually. Let the mixture simmer slowly until it has thickened sufficiently, stirring every now and then to prevent the sauce burning on the bottom or forming a skin. Add some milk, if the sauce seems too thick. To remove any possible lumps, strain the sauce through a fine sieve. Season the sauce with a dash of white pepper (and nutmeg, if using). Add half of the grated cheese into the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted. I never add salt, since cheeses are always very salty.

Assembling the lasagne:
Spread half of the meat ragout on the bottom of the lasagna dish. Cover with a layer of lasagna sheets and spread half of the béchamel sauce on top. Cover with another layer of lasagna sheets. Add the rest of the meat ragout, and top with a layer of lasagna sheets.

Lasagne slice Top the dish with the rest of the béchamel sauce and sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top. Dot the surface with pats of butter. Bake the lasagne at 175 °C for about 45 minutes, or until the surface is nicely browned.

Let the lasagne stand and firm up for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Recipe source: family recipe.


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