Sunday, 30 October 2016

An Actually Quite Simple Lasagne

It had been quite a while since I’d last made lasagne. I’m pretty sure that when I did it was Jamie Oliver’s “Simple Baked Lasagne” which is, quite frankly anything but. I seem to recall it took me 4 hours, a million ingredients and a dozen different cooking pans. It was incredibly delicious though so maybe I will blog that some other time. Under a different name though of course: “Jamie’s Far From Simple & Pretty Damn Labour Intensive But Super Delicious Lasagne”. Snappy.

This one though really is quite simple even if it is does use three different types of cheeses and two different types of meat. You only need a lasagne dish, frying pan and bowl. Plus, there is no bechamel to knock up. Yay!

In lieu of a bechamel you make a sort of cheesy sauce mixture which is where the three cheeses come in: Parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella. I was also going to add cream cheese - hence it’s appearance in the photo below - but changed my mind. If you can’t get a decent ricotta though, try cream cheese instead. Next time I’ll add maybe a couple of tablespoons extra cream, or maybe a little whole milk, just to make the cheese mixture easier to work with when layering up the lasagne.

I also used a mix of meats in the sauce: beef and Italian sausage meat but if you’d prefer to keep things more simple, just use all beef or maybe beef & pork mince. And if you actually prefer the slight sloppiness you get from bechamel please feel free to make one.

An Actually Simple Lasagne
serves 4-6

6 sheets fresh lasagne
For the Meat Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g beef mince
250g spicy Italian sausage, meat removed from casings
400g tin chopped tomatoes, whizzed up with a stick blender (or use a finely pulped tin of tomatoes)
1 tbsp tomato purée
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp dry oregano
1 ½ tbsp fresh basil, chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
100ml red wine
For the cheese mixture
250g ricotta
1 egg beaten
50g Parmesan, grated
1 ball mozzarella, grated
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
7.5g flat leaf parsley, chopped
50 ml cream
To finish
25g Parmesan, grated

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions, sprinkled with a little sea salt, for about five minutes over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook one more minute.

Add the meats, allow to brown undisturbed for a few minutes and then stir and break up bigger lumps and cook until there is no pinkness. Turn up the heat if necessary to boil off any excess liquid.

Stir in the red wine, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, about ¼ tsp salt and a good grind of pepper, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a fierce simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, most of the mozzarella (keep back a small handful), beaten egg, Parmesan, ½ tsp salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and the chopped parsley & cream. Mix to combine and set aside.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Grease a lasagne dish with olive oil and while the meat sauce is cooking spoon out a little to just cover the bottom of the dish. On top lay 2 lasagne sheets, overlapping slightly.

Spoon in a third of the meat sauce then a third of the cheese sauce.

Repeat with two more lasagne sheets, one third of meat mixture, one third of cheese mixture.

Finish with two more sheets, the remaining meat sauce, the remaining cheese sauce then top with the remaining mozzarella and grated Parmesan.

Place in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 30-35 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Allow to rest for five minutes then serve alongside a crisp salad.

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