Traditional lasagne layered with beef ragu and bechamel sauce.
serves: 8 | prep time: 1 hour | cook time: 50 mins
for the ragu sauce:
- 8 tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 8 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 750 grams minced beef (10 - 15% fat)
- 500 grams smoked bacon (halal is fine)
- 200 ml milk
- 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tube (100g) tomato puree
- 4 tbsp mixed dried herbs
- 2 beef stock cubes
- 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 400g dried lasagne pasta sheets
- 150g mozzarella
- 100g cheddar
- 5 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tsp cayenne (optional for a kick)
- 3 tsp cumin powder
- 0.5 tsp dried garlic powder
- 0.5 tsp white pepper
for the white sauce:
- 1.25 litres milk
- 100g butter
- 100g plain flour
- half nutmeg, finely grated
- Start by browning meat on medium low heat. Chop bacon into lardons and fry in olive oil till lightly brown. Add minced beef and also fry till brown. Add splashes of water periodically to prevent burning.
- Whilst meat is browning, make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter and mix in flour. Cook together for a few mins until the color starts to change. Add milk and gently whisk. Keep whisking periodically till thick. Add nutmeg and simmer on low for a few mins. Keep an eye to make sure it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. Once thick and creamy, take off heat, cover and set aside.
- Once the meat has browned, Add onions, minced garlic and carrots. Fry with the meat till the veg is soft. Careful not to burn the garlic, you can add small splashes of water periodically to prevent burning.
- Add tomato puree, ground spices, stock cubes and a splash of water to the meat/veg. Mix till a brown sloppy paste. Keep cooking on medium heat and stirring constantly for about 5 mins to cook out spices. Can add salt here too, but be careful as there is already plenty of salt in the bacon and stock.
- Add cans of tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Cook uncovered on medium low for 30-40 mins. Keep stirring to prevent burning.
- Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Spread a spoonful of the meat sauce over the base of a roughly 3.5-litre baking dish. Cover with a single layer of dried pasta sheets, snapping them to fit if needed, then top with a quarter of the béchamel. Throw over a handful of the mozzarella then spoon over a third of the meat sauce.
- Repeat the layers – pasta, béchamel, meat and mozzarella – two more times to use all the meat sauce. Add a final layer of pasta, the last of the béchamel, remaining mozzarella and the cheddar. Sit the dish on a baking tray to catch spills and bake for 50 mins until bubbling, browned and crisp on top.