Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Classic, No-Frills Lasagne

Okay - so i admit, i'm a little lax when it comes to updating recipes on here, but a lot of the time, i need to make something twice before i think 'ooh, that'd be a good one to put online for everyone' and get around to taking a picture of the end result. Anyway - we have here the easiest, no frills lasagne recipe. If you hadn't already guessed, i *love* Italian food, and i hate seeing things like this for sale in the frozen sections of supermarkets, or microwave ready meals - it's no way to treat food, especially not something like Lasagne!

You will need the following ingredients:

Large white onion
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
Tablespoon of Olive Oil
700g / 1.5lb Minced Beef (you can substitute with Lamb, Pork or Turkey Mince if you prefer)
2 OXO Cubes
1 can of chopped tomato's
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of dried oregano (heaped)
Pasta sheets for lasagne (preferably the ones you don't have to cook first)
Pinch of salt
2 ounces of salted butter
1 tablespoon of flour (heaped)
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
Block of cheddar cheese
1/2 pint of milk

Utensils needed:

Large Pyrex Dish
Large Saucepan w/Lid
Small Saucepan
Cheese Grater
Chopping Board

First - pre-heat the oven, set it to gas mark 4. Chop up the onion and crush the garlic with a garlic press. Take your large saucepan, put it on a medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Wait for the oil to get hot, and add the onions and garlic. Add a small pinch of salt as well. Keep stirring them until they go semi-translucent, you want them nice and sweated. Take the minced beef (or whatever you've used as a substitute), and add to the pan. Brown the meat off by stirring it through periodically. Once the meat is browned off, you want to add the OXO cubes by sprinkling them over the top, and straight away stirring them in. Add your can of chopped tomato's, and your tablespoon of tomato puree. Mix through well, and add the oregano, and turn the heat down low, and put the lid on the saucepan.

In your small saucepan, add your butter, and melt over a low heat. When the butter is starting to bubble, add your tablespoon of flour, and mix thoroughly until you have a paste. At this point, slowly add the milk, about a tablespoon worth at a time, in order to thin the paste out into the base for a sauce. This is known as a roux. Keep adding the milk until you have a sauce thats a little thinner than the desired consistency. You don't have to use all the milk either, if you like the sauce thick, that's fine, you just don't want it to thin out too much. Add a good tablespoon of parmesan cheese, and stir it in. Keep the sauce moving constantly, else it'll go lumpy, and potentially split. Add your ground nutmeg, don't put too much more than 1/2 a level teaspoon worth in as its very potent, taste wise - a little goes a long way! Keep stirring until its smooth, and take off the heat. If the sauce is a little too thick, add some more milk and stir in.

Turn off the heat on the saucepan with your meat & tomato sauce in, it should have thickened a little. Stir it through just to make sure nothing has settled to the bottom. Pour half the mix into the bottom of your dish, and layer pasta sheets over the top to cover. Then take the Bechamel and pour half of that over the pasta sheets. Put another layer of pasta sheets on top, and repeat the layer of tomato sauce, then more pasta sheets, then the last layer of bechamel. Grate a decent amount of cheddar cheese over the top, try not to leave any 'blank' patches. Take the rest of the parmesan cheese, and sprinkle liberally over the top. Place in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes - until the top goes golden brown.

Once its out - slice with a knife into however many portions, and use a serving spoon to decant it. If you find the pasta is a little al-dente for you, my advice is to get a bowl of boiling water, and drop each pasta sheet in there for a few seconds before layering. Use tongs to remove the sheets and put in place.

In either case - you should be left with something as gorgeous to look at, as this:

See? Simpler than it looks! :)

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