A few years back, I met a lovely Italian girl and she told me about homemade lasagne - the Italian way. The ragu sauce has to cook for at least 2 hours so that all flavours can mingle nicely in the pan. No Italian would ever use Dolmio Sauces or packs..... she actually said YUK quite loudly :-) thanks God that I could ensure her that I would never use ready made anything. I mean, just look at the ingredients of the Dolmio Lasagne Sauces - for the white sauce, water is the main ingredient before oil..... a Bechamel sauce is made with milk and not water or palm oil or xanthan gum or any of the other ingredients listed (yuk indeed).
Below is my version of the real thing. The ragu sauce can be made a day in advance - you might even have enough left over to use as Spaghetti Bolognese the day after. This recipe feeds 4 people easily.
- Olive oil
- 300g lean beef mince
- 300g pork mince
- 3 large plum tomatoes (use beef tomatoes if you can get them)
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 carrots
- 2tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tins of plum tomatoes
- Basil, parsley, rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt, pepper and chilli pepper
- 60g butter
- 60g plain flour
- 700ml warmed milk ( depending on the consistency) Nutmeg, freshly grated Salt
- Lasagne sheets
- Parmesan cheese, grated
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and finely chopped carrots until the onions become translucent. Leaving the garlic whole, but crushed, add the garlic and both mince and fry until the meat starts to colour slightly, stirring to prevent sticking to the bottom.
Add the chopped plum or beef tomatoes, the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée,bay leaves and herbs. Combine well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom.
When the ragu sauce is finished, heat the butter in a smaller saucepan and stir in the flour. Stir until the flour is smoothly combined with the butter. Slowly add the warmed milk and keep stirring until you have achieved a creamy consistency of sauce. Add the grated nutmeg and season to taste with salt.
Preheat your oven to 160c.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and drop in 3 lasagne sheets at a time. Leave in the hot water for about 3 mins and drain on a tea towel. Continue with the rest of the sheets - you will have about 4 layers of lasagne sheets.
Take an ovenproof lasagne dish and spoon same of the white sauce on the bottom, spreading it over the entire area. Follow up with a thin layer of ragu sauce. Top that with a layer of pasta sheets, overlapping only slightly. Continue with the rest of the sauces and pasta sheets until the the layers have come up almost to the rim of the dish (keeping in mind that the layers of sauces are quite thin in an authentic lasagne). Finish with a layer of white sauce, making sure that the pasta sheets are completely covered with the sauce (that will prevent hard pasta). Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake in the oven for about 40 mins or until the pasta sheets are cooked through and the lasagne is piping hot.