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How to make the perfect lasagne

lasagne.jpg

Though it sounds like a faff with all the ready-meal lasagnes on the market, ranging from the passable to the woeful, making the real thing will pay you back thricefold.

This ain’t no 15-minute supper, mind. With its varying stages of construction, it’s a therapeutic Saturday afternoon spent in the kitchen with the radio on.

We chatted to Claudio Gottardo, head chef at posh but homely Italian eatery Cantina Del Ponte in London, and he was sporting enough to give us his recipe for the perfect Lasagne alla Bolognese.

This recipe is for eight people, so make sure you invite some mates round.

For the ragu:

100g onions

100g carrots

100g celery

4 cloves of garlic

3kg minced beef

3kg minced pork

600g tomato sauce

600g red wine

3 litres veg stock

Salt

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the carrot, celery, onion (called a ‘soffritto’) and garlic and cook over a low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

2. In another pan, caramelise the minced meat and then add the ‘soffritto’ to it. Add the wine and cook it over medium heat till the wine evaporates. Add the tomato sauce.

3. Add the vegetable stock to just cover the meat and cook it for about one hour.

For the béchamel sauce:

1l milk

50g butter

60g plain flour

1 bay leaf

4 cloves

Black peppercorns and nutmeg

Parmesan cheese

1. Boil the milk with the bay leaf, cloves, a few black peppercorns and a pinch of nutmeg.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gradually add the flour whisking constantly. Whisk until all the flour is coated with the butter and the paste achieves a sandy texture. Remove from the heat and add the milk, being sure to fish out the cloves and peppercorns.

3. Gradually keep whisking. Return to a low heat and cook it for 30 minutes .

The assembly

Blanch the pasta sheets in boiling salted water until soft and then refresh in a bowl of cold water. Dry on a kitchen towel and start layering the lasagne. Spread a little of the béchamel sauce in the base of a deep baking dish. Add one layer of lasagne sheets to cover the sauce, cutting them to fit your dish if necessary. Add a third of the béchamel sauce, then top with half the meat. Scatter with a little Parmesan. Make another layer of lasagne sheets, then spread with a third of the béchamel, the rest of the meat and a little more Parmesan. Add a final layer of lasagne sheets and spread the rest of the béchamel on top. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes until deep golden on top.

(Image: Rex Features)

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