Lasagne Al Forno

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My husband and daughter tell me this is tasty, and better than Marks & Spencer’s, and that’s going some!  I suspect this has something to do with the fact that there’s an extra trillion calories in this one!

Another great recipe from Grandma’s Best Recipes – bizarrely, my sister who has been living in New Zealand for over a decade, told me the other week that she has exactly the same book, go figure.  So, here it goes, and again, I’ve adapted it, because that’s what I do.  Z

Ingredients – it says it serves 4, and yes it does, twice over

For the Lasagne itself:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil – I use Sunflower oil and it does the job
  • 55 grams of pancetta or rindless streaky bacon chopped – I use whichever bacon is in the fridge, usually un-smoked bacon and I just chop it with scissors
  • 1 onion chopped, or in my case, 1 mug of frozen onions
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, my daughter likes garlic, so I put in 4
  • 225g of fresh beef mince – I use 10% fat Irish beef mince and I put in 3 x 500 grams
  • 2 celery sticks – no-one likes celery in our house, so I don’t include this
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Salt, pepper, pinch of sugar, 1/2 tsp of Oregano
  • 400 grams of canned chopped tomatoes – I put 800 grams in
  • I also put in two medium jars of Dolmio Lasagne Sauce
  • 225 grams of dried no-precook lasagne sheets – so, what we’ve noticed is that it doesn’t cook properly in the oven, so I boil each sheet for a couple of minutes each side in a frying pan with hot water, and then add it onto the dish
  • 115 grams of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling – I grate a whole one irrespective of weight – actually, my husband does the cheese grating because it makes my arms ache 🙂 

For the cheese sauce:

  • 300 ml of milk – I put in 800ml of semi-skimmed
  • 1 bay leaf – yes, I actually only put one in
  • 6 black peppercorns – can’t be bothered to count, so just grab a handful
  • Slice of onion – or a handful of frozen onions
  • Blade of Mace – blimey o’riley, just sprinkle some mace in the saucepan
  • 2 tbsp butter – I add three
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard – not necessary, only bother if you have it in the house
  • 70 grams of Cheddar Cheese, grated – you will defo need 1.5 blocks of this stuff
  • 70 grams of Gruyere Cheese, grated – I use a whole block
  • Salt & pepper

December 2013-January 2014 557

Steps – I pretty much follow these from the book and either include or exclude the relevant ingredients as above

  1. Preheat the oven to 190.  Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based saucepan, I actually use a large wok.  Add the pancetta/bacon/whatever you’ve used and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes (I’ve found you need to do for about 5 minutes).  Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add the mince and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until browned all over.  Stir in the celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the sugar, oregano and tomatoes (don’t forget the Dolmio).  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Then, make the cheese sauce, and you do this by pouring the milk into a saucepan, add in the bay leaf, peppercorns, onion and mace.  Heat gently to just below the boiling point, then remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 10 minutes or so.  Then strain the milk into a jug.
  4. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan, sprinkle, or spoon in my case, the flour and cook over a low heat stirring constantly for about 1 minute.  I don’t do this – I melt the butter, then I add in the flour and I turn it into a paste first before I add the milk.  Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the warm milk.  Return to the heat and then bring to the boil stirring like a mad person until its thickened, and then add in a block of cheese, all the Gruyere and just under half the Parmesan, season with salt and pepper.
  5. In a large rectangular oven dish, add in a layer of the mince meat, then lasagne and then sprinkle Parmesan over it, and repeat until your dish is stuffed to the brim.
  6. Pour over your cream sauce and then add another healthy and calorific dose of cheddar cheese on top, and if you like the corners crusty like we do, then add a good dollup in the corners!
  7. Bung it into a warmed up oven, it says for 30 minutes, but we’ve found it needs nearer to 45 minutes.
  8. It says serve immediately, and you can of course, but serve it whenever you like!

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