Did this again tonight after my couch work. I make it all too infrequently that the sheets of pasta tend to linger in the back of the press until they annoy me and I say something like “I really should make more lasagne….”. Take 250g of mince John, as lean you can get, but according to Bernard, prime steak is also good but it is January. Break up in a pre-heated pan with a little oil. Brown the meat John and continue to heat it until you have it all browned. You should not need more than a tablespoon of oil because the heat does not have to be great and there is sufficient fat in the meat.
Turn your oven on in preparation, John. Roughly cut up as many assorted vegetables as you can carry from the fridge, mushrooms, a courgette, peppers, an onion, some garlic. Once the meat is ready chuck in the harder veg first and allow them to get a little softer before the courgette and mushrooms go in. Is there something about the pepper that precludes it from lists of heavy airmiles foods that I have seen compiled? Anyway, chop about four good sized tomatoes and when the rest of the vegetables are sufficiently mixed and softened with the meat, put the toms in with the mix and squeeze in a little tomato puree to enrich it. If you have fresh basil John, place this in unchopped in at this stage too. If you’re thinking you would like a glass of wine with this later (because you’ve had such a long day), open a bottle of red and put a good dose into the lasagne mix as well.
Now the complex part John: the cheese sauce that goes between the layers of meat / vegetable mix and the pasta sheets. Heat a knob of real butter, a table spoon of plain flour and about half a regular glass of full milk and heat them gently. Keep stirring this mixture making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Keep mixing until they thicken to combine into a paste. Take off the heat and grate about half a regular block of cheddar. And John? No cheese strings or calvita! Reheat the paste mixture while adding the grated cheese and keep stirring until you get a thick sauce, making sure all of the cheese has melted. Take off the heat if you need to. This can be heated up again later. You won’t get this right first time but persistence and all that.
Place some olive oil on the base of your lasagne dish and pour a generous helping of the cooked meat / veg mix on top, covering the entire dish. Place a layer of pasta on this and cover this all in a generous layer of cheese sauce. Repeat as many times as the amount of food will allow, alternating pasta, sauce and meat / veg. Finish with a layer of sauce and cover entirely in more grated cheese. Top with some more olive oil and some grated pepper.
Cook for about 40 minutes in a gas mark 5, or until the edges of the lasagne are burning like your ears. Eat with friends John, with gusto and with wine. That’s at least five words strung together.
Tomorrow: how to make the most of those cloth off-cuts.