Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cook's Club Challenge - Lasagna

My last challenge food for this fortnight is... lasagna! Here is the recipe pcmitcho posted for us to try:

Oil and butter (enough to cover the base of the pan you are using)
1 med to large carrot diced
1 med to large onion diced
Couple of sticks of celery diced
500gms beef mince
2 to 3 anchovy fillets (don’t mention these to anyone)
½ a 700gm bottle of cooking sauce (whatever flavour....I use Leggo’s)
Couple of tablespoons each of chopped fresh parsley and sweet basil
Fresh lasagne sheets
50/50 mix of grated whatever cheese you have and parmesan cheese (grate enough to generously cover the top of the dish to your liking)

Bechamel Sauce
60gms butter
1/3 cup plain flour
2 ¼ cups milk
½ teaspoon nutmeg (I grate it fresh)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180°c
Heat the pan and melt the butter and oil. Add the vege’s and cook until softened. Add the mince in batches and brown breaking up the lumps. Sneak in the anchovies and break up. They will dissolve.
Mix in the cooking sauce, herbs and season to your liking. Cook simmering for about 20 to 30 minutes and then set aside off the heat.
To make the sauce. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat until foaming. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. I use a whisk from here on. Return to the heat and bring to the boil stirring constantly until it is thick enough that when you stir it you can see the bottom of the pan. (I can’t explain it any better than that. I hope you know what I mean.) Season well with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Brush a dish with oil and spread a thin layer of the meat mix, then a thin layer of sauce and then cover with the lasagne sheets. Repeat this a couple of times. Continue the layers finishing with lasagne sheets topped only with sauce and the cheese.
I use a glass dish which is about 27 x 18cm and about 40cm deep and I get 3 layers of meat.
Bake for about 35 – 40mins or until golden brown on top.


I'd never made lasagna before, so I couldn't say how much nicer it is with fresh sheets. I didn't use the anchovies, because we don't have any in the house, since no one eats them. I was willing to give it a try, but I couldn't see the point in having the leftovers hang around until I clean out the fridge next. I also used basil from a tube, the pre-chopped kind, because I couldn't find any fresh (not suprising at this time of year) but I didn't bother with the parsley, unless you count the bits from the butcher display that got stuck in the mince.

I served this with store bought garlic bread, which I jazzed up with the leftover shaved parmesan. The kids liked this, but didn't seem to eat much of it. All the grownups in the house agreed that regardless of what the recipe said, and the packet instructions said, the pasta should have been soaked. Or else I shouldn't have put lasagna sheets on the bottom of the pan to try and make it easier to serve. Now I think maybe my sauce could have had a touch more moisture, and let the whole thing cook for longer, even though I cooked it for over 40mins as is. I got two layers of meat, in a large square tin.


kazari said...

I've been meaning to post my veggie lasagne recipe for weeks, but I can never take a nice picture of it.
As for the moisture and the pasta thing - i always put some sauce at the bottom before the first sheet, to lubricate if you like.
and my recipe cooks it for an hour (30 minutes covered, 30 uncovered with extra cheese)