Friday, 25 February 2011

Beef Lasagne

This is one of those really tasty, home-cooked, heart-warming meals that reminds you of your mother's food. Dripping with plum tomatoes and creamy béchamel sauce, all oozing between layers of al dente pasta, this really is a treat! It makes loads, enough to serve up to 12 people, and the leftovers make a really quick and delicious snack or lunchtime meal. What's more, it only takes 60 minutes from start to finish.

Top tip: Make the lasagne in advance, and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes when needed. You can use any Italian herbs, but Oregano works best.

INGREDIENTS:

Lasagne Pasta Sheets - 12
Cheddar - 250g grated

For the tomato sauce:

Beef mince - 500g
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 large
Garlic - 6 cloves
Plum Tomatoes - 2 tins
Tomato Purée - 3 tbsp
Carrots - 2
Sugar - 1 tsp
Button Mushrooms - 1 box
Oregano - 1 tbsp
Provincial Herbs - 1 tbsp
Chilli Powder - 2 tsp
Beef Stock - 1 cube
Worcester Sauce - 1 tbsp

For the Béchamel sauce:

Butter - 75g
Plain Flour - 75g
Milk - 1/2 pint
Nutmeg - 2 tsp

1. Roughly chop the onion and sauté in the olive oil until softened in a large frying pan or wok. Add the crushed cloves of garlic. 

2. Meanwhile peel and slice the carrots and place in some lightly sugared boiling water. Allow the carrots to boil while making the rest of the sauce.

3. Cut up the beef mince and stir into the onions, ensuring an even browning of the meat. Keep the pan on moderate to high heat. Once brown, slice the mushrooms and place on top of the meat. Heat through until the mushrooms start to shrink, then stir them in.

4. Sprinkle in the seasoning - the herbs, chilli powder, and stock cube and mix in well. Add a good amount of salt and pepper too.

5. Pour in the tins of plum tomatoes, roughly cutting them, but keeping large chunks. Drain the carrots once they are softened, and add to your tomato sauce. Stir in the tomato purée and worcester sauce and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

6. Meanwhile make the béchamel sauce. In a smaller pan melt the butter on a medium heat, then slowly add the flour a little at a time whilst constantly whisking with a fork over a medium heat. The idea is not to let the flour clump. Once the flour and butter is combined, add the milk a little at a time, constantly stirring. Add enough milk to give a creamy texture. Once ready, sprinkle in the nutmeg.

7. Once your two sauces are ready, remove from the heat and prepare your lasagne dish. Butter a large baking dish, and create three layers of lasagne. Each layer has tomato sauce, then cheddar sprinkled on top, then béchamel sauce, then pasta. Make sure each layer of sauce is spread right to the edges, and is even, and that there are no gaps between the sheets of pasta.

8. For the topping pour béchamel sauce over the top layer of pasta, and sprinkle with cheddar, a drizzle of olive oil and some ground black pepper.

9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes, until bubbling and the topping just starts to brown at the edges. The pasta should be slightly al dente, and the dish should retain it's layers as you serve up.

Serve on a bed of rocket, with fresh crusty bread and a glass of red wine.

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