Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Lasagna, My Way

Lasagna is one of those dishes everyone loves. The problem with this dish is that "it takes too much effort" to make it. Well, I tend to make this when I have a day off and I tend to start around 5 o'clock in the afternoon so we can start eating it at around 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening. And it is not because of all the work you need to put into it, but because I like leaving my tomato sauce to simmer and reduce for quite some time. If you have never tried to make lasagna before, one thing: don't be scared, just go for it and make sure you have a large enough oven dish ;)

What do you need?

For the tomato sauce

- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- an onion, chopped
- olive oil
- bay leaf
- 700g minced pork & beef mix
- 150g mushrooms, sliced
- one courgette, cut into small cubes
- lasagna sheets (no need for pre-cooking type, it is mentioned on the package)
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes (400g each)
- 1 small conserve of tomato puree
- a glass of red wine
- a squirt of ketchup
- paprika
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- salt & pepper

For the cheesy béchamel sauce

- 1l of milk (I use lactose free milk because it tastes sweeter and this goes well with the tomato)
- a packet of grated parmesan
- nutmeg
- salt & pepper
- 60g of butter
- 4 tbsp of plain all-purpose flour
- a pack of grated mozzarella

What do you need to do?

Start by cooking the vegetables first, the courgette and mushrooms. Use the same pot that you will use for the sauce. Add some olive oil to the pot and when heated, cook the vegetables until they have softened and reduced. While they are cooking season with salt, pepper and some paprika powder. When they are done, set them aside in a bowl. Add some more olive oil in the same pot you used for the vegetables and cook the onions and garlic until soft. When they have softened and not yet browned add the mince. Cook until browned and break into small pieces with your trusty wooden spoon. When your meat is cooked, add the chopped tomatoes and ketchup. Keep one of the cans the tomatoes were in and add the tomato puree with the wine and stir it all together. Add this mixture to the meat and mix it all together while making sure the heat is on medium. Add the bay leaf, sugar, mushrooms and courgette to the mixture. Again stir it all in and season. Leave to simmer until the mixture has reduced. I tend to leave it on low heat to simmer for at least 30 minutes.

When you are happy with your tomato sauce, start with the cheesy béchamel. This is simple to make but you have to keep whisking. First of all, melt the butter in a large enough pot to hold the milk later on. When the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk it together. It will become crumbly and sticky and at that moment start adding the milk while continuing to whisk. Make sure you remove the lumps! Slowly add the entire liter of milk and put the heat on high. It will only start to thicken when it is cooking, verging on boiling. Add the parmesan while whisking, as well as some salt, pepper and nutmeg for flavour. When the sauce has thickened nicely and your arm is starting to hurt, it is safe to say the cheesy béchamel is ready!

Now you have to start constructing the lasagna. Before starting, pre-heat your oven at 200°C.
To start constructing, add a layer of the white sauce. Then, cover with lasagna sheets. Then cover with a layer of tomato mixture, béchamel sauce, and pasta sheets. Repeat until you have filled your oven dish and make sure you finish with the béchamel sauce. Pop into the oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, sprinkle over the grated mozzarella and pop it back for another 10 minutes.

After all this work, your lovely lasagna is finally done and good to eat! Enjoy!

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