Alessandra’s Lasagne

Le Lasagne di Alessandra

The Delle Fratte family live on top of a hill just outside the lovely little town of Zagarolo in the province of Rome. All of us who were there will remember the genuine hospitality and warmth that we were given that day. The luncheon we were invited to was to celebrate the birth of my nephew, Lytton Scott, whose mother is a very close friend of the Delle Frattes. So this Lasagne, cooked by Alessandra Delle Fratte, the eldest daughter, was really in his honour. Maybe it should be re-named Lytton’s Lasagne!

Ingredients

For the Pasta

  • lb (500 g) plain white flour
  • 6 large brown eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or lb (500 g) dried lasagne

For the Filling

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 14 oz (400 g) lean minced beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 18 fl oz (500 ml) passata or sieved canned tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

For the Besciamella

  • 3 oz (75 g) butter
  • 4 level tablespoons plain white flour
  • 18 fl oz (500 ml) milk
  • salt
  • grated nutmeg
  • 4 oz (100 g) mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 3 oz (75 g) Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).

Make the pasta as usual, roll it out and cut it into strips about as wide as the palm of your hand. Boil these 3 at a time in plenty of salted water (a spoonful of oil in the water will prevent them sticking) and lay them on a damp tablecloth until required. (I recommend that you do this once the meat filling is simmering.) if you are using dried pasta, follow the instructions on the packet.

To make the filling fry the onion and beef in the oil until the meat is well browned and the onion is soft. Stir in the passata, add salt and pepper, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

To make the Besciamella melt the butter in a second saucepan, add the flour and stir vigorously to make a roux. Add the milk and stir thoroughly. Simmer gently for about 25 minutes, or until you can no longer taste flour. Season to taste with salt and nutmeg.

Cover the bottom of a 9 inch (23 cm) baking dish with a layer of Besciamella. Arrange a layer of pasta on top, cover with a layer of meat sauce and another of Besciamella. Scatter cubes of mozzarella and grated Parmesan on top. Continue in this way until you have filled the dish. The last layer should be of Besciamella, over which you should sprinkle any leftover mozzarella or Parmesan.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave for 5 minutes to allow it to set so you can cut it easily, then serve.

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