Meat lasagne

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6–8

Appears in

Apples for Jam

Apples for Jam

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2010

  • About

My mother makes a good lasagne — and she isn’t Italian. She mostly uses the dried ‘ready-cook’ sheets and sometimes adds chopped celery, peppers and mushrooms to the meat sauce. The ready-cook sheets do absorb quite a lot of liquid, so it’s important to keep your sauces fairly runny. If you prefer, just use the sheets that need boiling beforehand. The meat sauce and béchamel can be made in advance. I often make huge pots of the minced meat sauce and freeze it; then when I want to make lasagne it doesn’t seem much of a job at all.

Ingredients

Meat Sauce

  • 125 ml(4 fl oz/½ cup) olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 kg(2 lb4 oz) minced (ground) beef
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 375 ml(13 fl oz/ cups) white wine
  • 800 g(1 lb12 oz) tinned diced tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Bechamel Sauce

  • 120 g( oz) butter
  • 80 g( oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 litre(35 fl oz/4 cups) milk, warmed freshly grated nutmeg
  • about 350 g(12 oz) lasagne sheets
  • 80 g( oz) grated parmesan cheese

Method

For the meat sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions over medium heat until they are quite golden. Stir in the garlic and then add the mince, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, worcestershire sauce, mint and paprika. Sauté over high heat for 8–10 minutes until the meat starts to brown, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add the wine and cook for 5 minutes or so until it evaporates. Add the tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and then add 750 ml(26 fl oz/3 cups) of water. Season with salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Add the parsley for the last 10 minutes.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then begin adding the warm milk. It will be immediately absorbed, so work quickly, whisking with one hand while adding ladlefuls of milk with the other. When the sauce seems to be smooth and not too stiff, add salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg and continue cooking, even after it comes to the boil, for 5 minutes or so, mixing all the time. It should be a very thick and smooth sauce.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and grease a deep 22 × 30 cm(8½ × 12 inch) baking dish. Drizzle some béchamel over the bottom of the dish and rock it from side to side so that the béchamel more or less covers the bottom very thinly. Put a slightly overlapping layer of lasagne sheets on top. Ladle on a thin layer of meat sauce, spreading it with the back of the ladle. Add about two ladlefuls of béchamel in long drizzles and then cover with a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese.

Add another layer of lasagne sheets, then meat sauce, béchamel and parmesan, as before, and repeat this layering twice more. Use up all the meat sauce in a last layer, then top this with a final layer of pasta. Scrape out the last of the béchamel to thinly cover the lasagne sheets and sprinkle the top with any remaining parmesan. Put in the oven with a tray underneath to catch the drips and bake for 30–40 minutes, until it is crusty in parts, golden and bubbling.

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