This recipe makes a very traditional and delicious Lasagne, with a wonderful ragu of beef and pork, and an authentic, creamy béchamel sauce. You will definitely enjoy this lasagne as it melts in the mouth, has really deep flavours, and leaves a subtle, fresh, clean taste of rosemary behind.
This lasagne rewards a little patience. If you take your time you will create a beatuiful ragu and a creamy bechamel sauce.
For the béchamel sauce
- 70g butter
- 70g plain flour
- 1.2 litres whole milk
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 of an onion
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
For the lasagne
- 16 sheets of fresh lasagne pasta (bought or made)
- 350g mozzarella (cut into small cubes)
- 60g grated parmesan
- 3 tbsp butter
- freshly ground black pepper
For the ragu
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 celery sticks (finely chopped)
- 2 medium carrots (finely chopped)
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
- 1 sprig rosemary (leaves only)
- 900g beef (lean mince)
- 400g pork (lean mince)
- 750ml (1 bottle) Italian red wine
- 800g (2) cans Italian tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree (concentrate)
- 300ml beef stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the beef and pork ragu: in a large, tall saucepan pan heat the olive oil and over a low heat fry the celery, carrots and onion (which have been chopped finely) until softened, sticky and golden (about 15 minutes). When it is at this stage add the crushed garlic and rosemary, tomato puree, and fry for two more minutes – then turn the heat right down.
In a large frying pan add some olive oil, turn the heat up, then in batches brown the minced meat. Do it in batches so as not to over-load the frying pan with meat, which cools the temperature of the frying pan too much. First add the minced beef in batches, stir and fry, and then add the pork mince, and fry until all the meat is browned. As each batch is browned add it to the saucepan with the vegetables. Deglaze the pan with a little red wine and pour this into the saucepan.
Into the saucepan pour in approximately 400ml of red wine, and stir well. Simmer this on a medium heat, without the lid on, for approximately 45 minutes to reduce the liquids.
Once the sauce has thickened a little add the tinned chopped tomatoes, the rest of the wine and the beef stock. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Leave the ragu uncovered again to cook slowly for two hours on a low simmer. At the end, if it needs to thicken some more, turn the heat up, and stir to reduce the liquid.
To make the béchamel sauce: Into a large saucepan pour in the milk, add the bay leaves, onion quarter and nutmeg and bring this gently up to the boil. Simmer gently for 10 minutes then take off the heat.
In a separate large saucepan melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Beat well and cook this out for two minutes. Add a little of the milk mixture to the flour to thin. Pour it through a sieve to catch any of the bits. Combine well by stirring, and when all the milk has been absorbed from this first stage, add a little more. Take your time and continue to do this until all the milk has been added, whisking continually. Simmer the béchamel until thickened and creamy. Take off the heat.
Preheat the oven to 180C
To make the lasagne: blanch the pasta sheets in a bowl with some salted boiling water for three minutes, remove and drain. Spoon a quarter of the béchamel sauce into the bottom of a buttered lasagne dish, smoothed into a flat layer, then place some of the pasta sheets over the top. Next add a few mozzarella cubes, and a good sprinkle of grated parmesan, grind over some freshly ground black pepper. Follow this with a deep layer of the beef and pork ragu.
Repeat these layering steps twice or three times, until all the ingredients have been used up. Finish with some béchamel sauce, a sprinkling of grated parmesan, and finally dot a few knobs of butter over the surface. Cook the lasagne in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 180C until golden-brown on top and the pasta sheets are completely cooked through.