Lasagne is something that we eat maybe once year or at most twice a year and that's only when it's a home made lasagne or a store bought one where I have no choice in the matter. It is also not something that I would ever order in a restaurant. Come to think of it, I have only ever ordered lasagne once when we were at a restaurant, and that was only because I was intrigued by it as it was the only thing that a friend of ours ever orders whenever we eat at this particular restaurant.
Not sure why I've never attempted making lasagne. If I have to guess, it's probably the béchamel sauce that put me off. I've heard many stories of how lasagnes end up in the bin because the texture of the lasagne was just appalling. There were lots of reservations about making this, but in the end I decided that I'd dive in and give it ago. If it doesn't work out, I would have a good excuse as to why it didn't work.. - I would just blame old age and the recipe.
So, the above was my attempt at Sophie Baimbridge's Lasagne al Forno from her book Simply Italian. It looks like a lasagne right? So if it looks like a lasagne and it tastes like a lasagne then I must've got it right...right??
Suffice to say that I almost gave up on this lasagne after the "horror" that ensued, after successfully making a delicious meat and béchamel sauce. (I passed on the béchamel sauce!)
You see, the instruction on the recipe said to use a third each of the meat sauce, the cheese and béchamel sauce in each layer of the lasagne.
SO you (that's me) spread 1/3 of the meat sauce first, follow with 1/3 of the mozzarella and then cover with some lasagne sheets, pour in 1/3 of the béchamel sauce and sprinkle with some parmesan. Then place another layer of lasagne sheet, meat sauce, mozzarella, béchamel, parmesan etc etc etc..
So then, how to explain the extra 40g of parmesan cheese (used), extra 20g of mozzarella cheese (ok this is negligible.. I had 20g left no point saving it for a rainy day), the thin layer of béchamel sauce on the top and the 2 sheets of lasagne leftover after assembling the 'lasagne' in the dish??!
I can think of 3 possible reason. Maybe...
- The recipe is not quite right? or
- The Ingredients I prepared shrank in quantities. or
- The stupid woman that made it (hang on.. that's me!) couldn't comprehend the meaning of "1/3".
Lasagne al forno
adapted from Simply Italian, Sophie Baimbridge
1 onion, finely choped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, crushed
120g Italian sausage meat*
500g minced beef
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch of ground nutmeg
75ml dry white wine
375ml beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp double cream
1 bay leaf
1 small onion (stud cloves into onion)
40g plain flour
125ml double cream
8 fresh/dried lasagne shets (min 8, as you know from above, I ended up using less)
170g mozzarella, grated
100g parmesan, grated
- Chop onion and carrots finely.
- Heat butter in a frying pan and add in the onions, carrot, sausage meat and crushed garlic.
- Cook over low heat for 5-6min or until softened.
- Increase the heat a little and add in the beef, cook until beef is coloured but not browned. Make sure you break up any lumps of mince as you're cooking. Add in the oregano and nutmeg and season to taste.
- Add the white wine, increase heat and cook until the wine evaporates.
- Add in beef stock and tomato puree, mix well and leave to simmer for 2hrs. During this time, ensure that the mixture is moist, add a little hot water if necessary. At the end of the simmering period all the cooking liquid should to be absorbed by the meat.
- Turn off the heat, stir in the cream and leave to cool for at least 15mins.
- In a saucepan, bring to boil the milk, bay leaf and onion. Once boiled, remove from heat and leave to stand for at least 20min to infuse.* Strain milk into a measuring jug.
- Melt butter in another saucepan and mix in the flour to make a roux.
- Cook over low heat, stirring as about 2mins.
- Add milk to roux in small amounts, stirring as you go to prevent lumps. Simmer gently for about 10mins until sauce is creamy.
- Stir in the cream, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and pour it into the same milk jug. Cover surface with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.
Assembling the Lasagne
- Preheat oven to 180deg C and grease a large oven proof dish.
- First, spread 1/3 meat sauce into the dish. Scatter 1/3 mozzarella cheese over the meat and cover meat/cheese layer with pasta sheets.
- Follow with 1/3 bechamel sauce over the pasta sheets and sprinkle with parmesan.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3, and finish with a layer of bechamel sauce and parmesan.
- Bake lasagne in oven for 40mins or until it is golden and bubbling.
I KNOW, it's the dish's fault! It must be.. it's just way too.. err.. big.
*The original recipe called for 120g of panchetta. The deli where I usually frequent didn't have any panchetta that day so I substituted it with Italian sausages that I had in the fridge. Not quite right I know, but since it tasted ok, I'd like to think that it was good enough :)
- The crust looks a bit dry because I was too busy watching tv and forgot about the lasagne. I think it sat in the oven for an extra 15-20mins than it needed to. Plus I didn't have enough cheese, so I couldn't get a cheesy texture on the top. :(
- My little Italian adventure - Part 1: That salad.
- My little Italian adventure - Part 3: Lime Panna cotta