Lasagne is a favourite with a lot of people including our family. Being a tad lazy I usually just throw it together with my quick fire bolognaise sauce which I have perfected to about 10 minutes preparation and then simmering till required for spaghetti or as a lasagne filling.
Sometimes however it is nice to spend some time and really develop the recipe. This is not a quick fix for a week night tea. It takes a seriously long time to prepare and cook the elements before even considering the putting together and final cooking. The final dish is most certainly worth the effort and the dish does not hang around long in our household.
Onion chopped finely
Celery chopped finely
Garlic chopped finely
Carrot chopped finely
Red Wine Vinegar
It might seem a strange start but wash your mince through in a colander - it helps break up the strands and allows each bit to cook and become crispy.
Lay this mince, which is now quite waterlogged, on a flat baking dish and cook in the oven for 40 minutes (190°c)
Prepare the tomatoes. When investing the time and effort in a meal like this it is worth getting good tomatoes (and good quality mince if you can). Cut the tomatoes in half and lay on another baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and sugar; these both bring different qualities of taste to the forefront and transform a good tomato sauce into a fantastic one. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until they are charred and very soft - this may take longer if they are at the same heat as the mince.
Begin to prepare the rest of the sauce. Fry the bacon lardons till they are turning crispy. Add the onions and garlic. I like to get vegetables into the family and have long used carrots, celery and sometimes even peas in dishes like this. None of which are strictly Italian. Add any carrots and/or celery at this point (peas can be added shortly before putting the dish together)
Cover the mix with a large spoonful of sugar followed by a good slug of Red Wine Vinegar. These work as a great combination together.
Follow with a large glassful of Red Wine.
Heat through allowing the liquid to be soaked up by the vegetables.
If the tomatoes are not ready, remove the mix from heat and let the flavours marry together in a fusion of hits and delicious blends.
When the tomatoes are soft and charred add beef stock to the mix with the mince and tomatoes, also add the herbs. Italian herbs are great, or a mixture of oregano, rosemary and thyme. My mother always added a couple of bay leaves to any Italian dish and I follow the tradition popping them in now.
Let the mixture bubble away for a while before layering with pasta sheets. There needs to be some juice still in the mix but not too much as it will seep out during the baking process.
Layer pasta, sauce, pasta sauce, finish with a layer of pasta.
Top the lasagne off with a layer of white sauce (I don't add any cheese yet) which I had also added a sprinkling of mustard powder to add depth to the sauce. I like to let the white sauce cool slightly before pouring over the top of the lasagne.
Then finish with lots of grated Parmesan cheese. This is one recipe where it is worth getting the real cheese and grating over. Remember though, Parmesan is strong so you may need less than you think.
Pop back into the medium oven for about 30 - 40 minutes and serve to a hungry crowd
It is your choice how you serve this, garlic bread, green salad, glass of red wine or even chips but the dish can hold it's own in the centre of your table.
Enjoy and let me know the occasion you might serve this dish. The wait is certainly worth it but I say again this is not for a speedy supper, so enjoy the meal.
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