I prepared lasagne tonight, but didn’t know what to do with pasta sheets which didn’t fit the cooking tin till I rang Iride, of Serramazzoni, Modena, who’s experience of lasagne is as much as mine is of fish and chips!
I have since devoured lasagne recipes and the one I am going with is based upon Mary Berry’s recipe, one of the best-known and respected cookery writers and broadcasters in the UK.
It’s a classic lasagne recipe which has been perfected over the years. For the best results leave the lasagne to stand for six hours before cooking.
I revered Iride so much that I married her daughter, but as good as I tried to be in bed she never betrayed the family secret of making a good ragu.
Until now. Please keep it a secret.
Iride, son tanto felice.
1 For the ragu
a 2 tbsp olive oil
b 900g/2lb minced beef
c 2 onions, roughly chopped
d 4 sticks celery, diced
e 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
f 2 level tbsp plain flour
g 150ml/¼ pint beef stock
h 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly (optional) or 1 tsp sugar
i 3 tbsp tomato purée
j 1 tbsp chopped thyme
k 2 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
2 For the white sauce
a 50g/2oz butter
b 50g/2oz plain flour
c 750ml/1¼ pints hot milk
d 2 tsp Dijon mustard
e 50g/2oz parmesan cheese, grated
f salt and pepper
3 For the lasagne
a 10-12 sheets lasagne
b 75g/3oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
1. The ragu
a. Heat a large frying pan until hot and add the oil.
b. Cook the mince until browned all over.
c. Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate.
d. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until softened.
e. Return the meat to the pan and stir in the flour.
f. Add the stock and bring to the boil.
g. Add the redcurrant jelly (or sugar), tomato purée and thyme, then stir well.
h. Stir in the canned tomatoes.
i. Bring to the boil again, cover and simmer for 1½ hours, until the beef is tender.
2. The white sauce
a. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
b. Add the flour and cook over the heat for one minute.
c. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, whisking until thickened.
d. Add the Dijon mustard and parmesan cheese and season well with salt and pepper.
3. The lasagne
a. Put one third of the meat sauce in the base of a 4 pint shallow ovenproof dish.
b. Spoon one third of the white sauce on top.
c. Arrange one layer of lasagne sheets on top. Season.
d. Spoon half of the remaining meat sauce on top and then half of the white sauce.
e. Put another layer of lasagne sheets on top, then the remaining meat sauce and remaining white sauce.
f. Sprinkle over the cheddar cheese.
4. Leave for six hours before cooking to let the pasta soften (if you follow Iride’s tip, it’ll not be needed, but it’s not bad to let flavours blend into blander ingredients).
5. Preheat the oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas 6
6. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes- or until golden brown on top, bubbling around the edges and the pasta is soft.
This is what she told me:
1. Don’t forget to soak the pasta sheets in salted hot water
until pliable/cuttable with scissors.
2. Add 150g finely chopped closed cup mushrooms to the mince mixture when you add the sauce.
3. Make sure that you choose lasagne sheets that don’t need pre-cooking (most varieties sold are ready-to-use).
Here’s a video of the process.
Next I’ll do a seafood lasagne.