Lasagne, Italian but as common as a hot dog or meat pie in Australia. I have a strong dislike for those frozen Lasagne packets, or those in the foil, they taste so artificial, lots of cheese and strange mince meat. Ever since I tried making lasagne for myself, I can never go back to the store-bought versions. The Taste.com.au recipe works a treat, isn’t too complex but still requires a few different procedures but well worth it.
“Our Favourite Lasagne Recipe” (Taste.com.au)
Ingredients (serves 8)
2 tsp olive oil
1 brown onion, halved, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
750g beef mince
2 x 400g cans Italian diced tomatoes
125ml (1/2 cup) dry red wine
55g (1/4 cup) tomato paste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Bechamel (Cheese) sauce
1L (4 cups) milk
1 brown onion, halved, coarsely chopped
8 fresh parsley stalks
8 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
60g butter (Cooking Margarine can be used instead)
50g (1/3 cup) plain flour
70g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt & ground white pepper
Optional: Dried chilli flakes
Olive oil, extra, to grease
4 fresh lasagne sheets (Or cannelloni sheets but they are smaller and harder to use)
55g (1/2 cup) coarsely grated mozzarella
Mixed salad leaves, to serve
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until mince changes colour.
2. Add the tomato, wine and tomato paste, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, to make the cheese sauce, combine the milk, onion, parsley stalks, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse.
4. Strain the milk mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug. Discard solids.
5. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until mixture bubbles and begins to come away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat.
6. Gradually pour in half the milk, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk, until mixture is smooth. Gradually add the remaining milk, whisking until smooth and combined.
7. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Add the parmesan and stir until cheese melts. Taste and season with nutmeg, salt and white pepper.
8. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a rectangular 3L (12 cup) capacity ovenproof dish with oil to lightly grease. Spread one-quarter of the bechamel sauce over the base of the prepared dish. Arrange 1 lasagne sheet over the sauce. Top with one-third of the mince mixture and one-third of the remaining bechamel (Cheese sauce) sauce. Continue layering with the remaining lasagne sheets, mince mixture and bechamel, finishing with a layer of bechamel. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Place on a baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until cheese melts, is golden brown, and the edges are bubbling. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes to set.
9. Cut the lasagne into 8 portions and serve with mixed salad leaves.
Making lasagne is like making a tomato based pasta sauce halfway as the mince mixture is not as wet but the flavours of it and procedure is basically the same and yes I do add chilli flakes in there too.
The cheese sauce needs a bit more watching as to avoid the milk mixture from frothing over the saucepan so be careful. The other focus point is when pouring the flour into the butter mixture, it can stick to the bottom of the saucepan/pot that you are using.
I love the bechamel sauce that it makes, it’s so flavourful unlike those take-away sauces. I know it’s an unfair comparison but that’s what most people are used to eating.
We actually used cannelloni sheets because we had some left over but they work just as well as lasagne sheets, but I think they are just a tad smaller so the sauce kinda seeps through when layering. Just layer twice and cover the gaps and it should be fine. I really do enjoy making lasagne and this recipe in particular, and the layering part is fun for kids too!