Lasagne is one of the most comforting Italian dishes when it is made properly. Forget those congealed dull squares you see in delis and supermarkets – here is a full-on authentic lasagne that you will make over and over. The recipe method is based on the late Gina De Palma’s recipe.
You’ll need a baking dish that can fit 3 lasagna sheets across.
For the ragu sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped very finely
1 small carrot, chopped very finely
1 stick of celery, chopped very finely
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g good quality beef or pork mince (preferably a mixture of both)
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1/2 sprig rosemary, chopped very finely
200ml white wine
200g tinned tomatoes plus the passata inside the tin
1 stalk of rosemary and 2 stalks of sage or 8 basil leaves
Virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
15 sheets of lasagna
200g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
To make the ragú sauce
1. Brown the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over a gentle heat. It will take about 10-12 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
2. Add the meat and brown it well, stirring to make sure all the meat colours. Add the tomato purée and rosemary and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add half the white wine and reduce until the meat is almost dry again.
4. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan and crush them with a wooden spoon or fork. Add the stalk of rosemary, and the sage/basil and stir.
5. Add the rest of the wine, stir with a wooden spoon and turn the heat down so that the sauce is bubbling gently. Cook, stirring occasionally for an hour and a half, longer if you have the time. Add water if you find the sauce is getting dry.
6. Make the white sauce keeping it a little loose and fluid.
7. Smear a little bechamel/white sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, line with lasagne sheets breaking them to make an even layer with no overlapping. Add a layer of ragú sauce and top with a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, keeping enough for the next layers. (You’ll have to judge it by eye as dishes differs in size.) Repeat another one or two layers, if you have enough sauce and lasagne sheets, finishing with a layer of lasagne sheets topped with white sauce and cheese.
8. Bake for 40 minutes. Stick a fork in and if you feel a bit of resistance, bake it for another 5-10 minutes or until the lasagne is golden and bubbling and crispy on top and you can pierce the centre easily.
A note: The late chef Gina de Palma mentioned in the introduction was pâtisserie chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant in New York.
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