Total preparation and cooking time: 1.5 hours (average)
The first step in making the ultimate lasagne is to make the ultimate Bolognese sauce. You’ll be surprised to find that there are no tomatoes in this sauce, only tomato paste. Traditionally a meat sauce, the flavour of the beef is what you are supposed to experience in a proper Bolognese. Secondly, get yourself the best mozzarella and parmesan you can find. Don’t buy the pre-grated stuff in a bag, you’ll see why in a minute. It’s all about the little things in this recipe that make it The Ultimate Lasagne Recipe.
- 1 kg mince beef
- Finely chopped 1 each of stalk of celery, carrot and onion, cut into ½ cm pieces
- 1 litre beef stock
- 100gm tomato paste
- 2 cups milk
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 box of instant lasagne sheets
- 500gm mozzarella (or more!)
- 250gms Parmesan cheese (Reggiano is the best)
Let’s make the sauce:
- Set a deep stove top pot to high and pour in some cooking oil (canola or olive oil is fine).
- Add mince beef and cook until browned all through (not grey, not just cooked. You want there to be no more water boiling with the mince and to see some rich brown colour – it will take around 20 minutes!).
- Add vegetables and cook over low-medium heat for another 10 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and stir to combine and cook for a few minutes to remove the acidic taste of the paste. Tip: start preheating the oven now to 180ºC.
- Add beef stock, 250mls at first then let it cook down, then add the rest and allow to reduce for around 15-20 minutes.
- To cut through the richness, we now add the milk and again reduce. You are looking for a thick sauce to form, it may take 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sauce done! Now to compile the lasagne and bake:
- In your favourite casserole dish, start by adding a little of the sauce to the bottom so the lasagne sheets don’t stick.
- Cover the surface of the sauce with a layer of lasagne sheets – do not overlap (break into pieces if necessary).
- Now add some more of your meat sauce so it completely covers the sheets. Now add a layer of thinly sliced mozzarella, then another layer of sheets and so on until your dish is full to the brim. When you are roughly in the middle, add a good covering of chopped parsley to a meat layer. The final layer should be meat sauce. Then top with all that grated parmesan and any remaining mozzarella.
- Place in the oven and bake until golden brown on top (around 30 minutes).
- When it’s done, make sure you let your lasagne rest out of the oven for at least 15 minutes. Otherwise when you cut it to serve you will end up with a mess instead of nicely formed lasagne pieces. Top with some more chopped parsley – your diners will appreciate the freshness to help cut through all that rich sauce and cheese!
Serving suggestion: a fresh green salad of lettuces lightly dressed with lemon and extra virgin olive oil is all you need to accompany The Ultimate Lasagne.