For some reason I seem to be making dinners that I’ve not made in donkey’s years (that’s a really long time, in my case 20+ years).
I give you Lasagne.
There are things I’d change, but we’ll get to that.
I don’t think I even need to say that I trawled Pintrest looking for a recipe, right? I guess it was timely that I also saw a tweet from a chef giving his “secrets” to the perfect Lasagne.
I love looking at recipes and deciding what I do and don’t like about the ingredients and the instructions to making a dish. As it turns out I took the things I liked from this recipe, and this recipe.
My plan had been to have this for dinner Sunday, and I was of the mind to make it on Saturday so that the flavours could mature a little. I expected to be making it during the evening, but the 29 deg heat put an end to my afternoon run, so the time was spent making the meat sauce instead. It was really nice having Mum’s company while I was busy tossing this all together and waiting for the liquids to simmer away.
I have never before used lasagne sheets. I was somewhat nervous but can you believe I couldn’t find lasagne other than the small stuff. Cooking the lasagne (or noodles if you please) first wasn’t a problem, I wasn’t concerned about the few extra minutes that would take. But I wanted large pieces of pasta. I was actually expecting the lasagne would be a bit like cardboard not having had enough sauce to soften it. But it was OK. And when I say OK, I mean OK. It’s one of the things I would change. And that’s not a problem anymore because during Sunday afternoon we bought a pasta maker, this is before the Lasagne was assembled. But learning how to make the dough and figuring out the pasta maker is a little more pressure than I needed with just an hour before I was putting this altogether.
So let’s see what I did with merging the bits of the two recipes I liked.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 3 garlic clove, smashed then minced
- 1 pound minced beef
- 1 pound minced pork
- 100gm tomato paste
- 2 x 410gm cans peeled tomatoes
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/4 cups Red Wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 200gm Gruyere Cheese
- 275gm Mozzarella
- Add the olive oil to a large pot along with the onions, garlic and carrot. Cover with a lid and cook over medium low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. The moisture released by the vegetables should keep them from burning, but if they start burning, turn down the heat and add a little water.
- Once the onions are cooked, remove the lid and turn up the heat, sautéing until the mixture is 1/3 the original volume and starting to caramelise.
- Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the beef and pork. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the clumps.
- Add the milk and boil, continuing to break up the clumps until the beef is cooked and there is no liquid left.
- Add the wine and boil until most of the liquid has evaporated and there is no smell of alcohol remaining.
- Add the tomatoes, using your hands to crush them into small pieces, and then add the tomato paste, salt, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper.
- Simmer the sauce over medium low heat until it is thick (30-40 minutes).
- Place the oven rack in the top position and preheat to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Put the Mozzarella and Gruyere in a bowl and toss to distribute evenly.
- Put down a layer of sauce that’s just thick enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Sprinkle with cheese.
- Cover with the pasta, cutting the pasta as necessary to fill in the spaces. Repeat so that you have 3 layers of pasta.
- Once you have 3 layers of pasta, finish by spreading the remaining meat sauce on top of the last layer of pasta. Cover with enough cheese so that you cannot see any sauce underneath.
- My Notes
- No bake pasta is really hard to cut (when your sheets don’t meet the edges of your lasagne dish. Another reason for using different pasta).
- I loved squishing the tomatos between in my palms. It was almost therapeutic.
- I was a little worried I didn’t have enough meat sauce for the size of dish. You know, the first is just enough to cover the bottom, then the next you’re a little tentative because you still have another layer. You could measure the meat sauce after covering the base so you know just how much you need.
- Because the meat sauce was cold it wasn’t so easy to just “spread” around. Instead I had to place clumps and then press it down on the lasagne, hoping the pressure wasn’t too much and would crack the pasta (another thing that wont be a problem is you’ve parboiled pasta, or made your own).
- My dish was 32 by 22cm. The amount of meat sauce was just right. I didn’t need to worry, but there wasn’t a scrap left.
So there we have it. A dish I’ve not made for such a long time. I have ordered it when we’ve eaten out on occasion. It’s not like I’ve gone cold turkey
So what did Mr Fussy think? He wasn’t fussed on the pasta (he’s not alone) but agreed that this was quite tasty.
Yep, I’ll make this one again, probably before another round of donkey’s years pass. When I get the hang of the pasta maker and looking for some way to use the pasta I think this will be the perfect place to start.
I got 8 servings out of this. Which was way more than we needed for the 3 of us, but it’s meant that we had another really easy meal during the week (tonight).