This is another recipe that’s taken from a Jamie Oliver one and adapted to be easier, less pretentious, and (not to toot my own horn) more delicious!
I’ve made a lot of lasagnes in my time; from the basic, shit, sugar-filled jarred types with associations of a certain (quite racist?) puppet family, to the most dry, bland, homemade attempts – usually with added peas, why did I add peas?! The one thing that’s always gone to shit with my lasagne attempts is they always go sloppy. It’s more of a soup with some pasta sheets. They might have tasted good but it don’t look pretty on a plate! Finally I think I’ve cracked it with this one!
This recipe looks long and complicated, but it’s not actually that bad! Plus you have leftovers to freeze and there’s a dinner ready for another night. Boom! Mum win!
Ingredients (serves 5, with leftovers…and extra ragu to freeze which is always a winner in my book!)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp of dried – it won’t be as good but lets be honest it’s easier)
6 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon (a rasher is one half of the pack right?! You know what I mean? Ugh I’m not giving Jamie a run for his money am I?)
1kg minced beef
1kg minced pork
4 sticks of celery
2 heaped tablespoons of tomato puree
4 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons cornflour (mixed with water)
Dried lasagne sheets
150g of cheddar cheese (as mature as you can get)
2 medium leeks
2 bay leaves (Jamie says fresh, I don’t even know where you get fresh…)
4 tablespoons plain flour
750ml semi-skimmed milk (get it out of the fridge for a bit before cooking)
A whole nutmeg for grating
Finely chop the rosemary leaves and the bacon, heat around a tablespoon of olive oil in the biggest pan you have on a high heat. Add the rosemary and bacon and fry until the bacon begins to crisp – stirring loads.
Add all the minced meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for at least ten minutes or until browned (drain off the gross watery shit that comes out of meat, nobody needs that, try not to drop it all in the sink…)
If you’ve got a food processor whack the carrots, onions and celery to that. If not, then you’re one of my gang and yes it’s shit but we got this. Basically chop the carrot and onion as small as you can then have a quick look on Argos to see if you can justify buying a food processor.
Add the veg to the meat and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until they start to soften.
Add the tomato puree and the tinned tomatoes, popping the plum tomatoes with a wooden spoon against the side of the pan (I find this bit really satisfying!). Fill two of the tins with water and add to the pan.
Give the pan a good stir, reduce the heat a little bit and leave to simmer for around 2 hours (add the corn flour and water mix after about an hour). It should start to thicken up.
Start the cheese sauce after about an hour and a quarter. Trim and finely slice the leeks and chuck in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the bay leaves. Stir well and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, add a couple of splashes of water if it looks too dry. Then add the flour and stir until coated. Gradually add the milk, stirring well to avoid lumps. Turn the heat up to bring the mix to the boil, then reduce it again and leave it ticking away for 5 to 10 minutes – until it’s thickened.
Pour the sauce into the food processor (unless you don’t have one of course – I used a hand blender. If you don’t have one of them you’re fucked. Sorry if you got this far…lumpy sauce!) and blend until ‘smooth and silky’. Add most of the cheese and the nutmeg and stir until the cheese is melted.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC and build up your lasagne. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here that you know how to do this…
Portion the leftover ragu into freezer bags and let cool before whacking in the freezer to be forgotten about for the next six months.
Top the lasagne with the rest of the grated cheese and cook for about 45 minutes until gold and bubbling and you can’t wait a second more.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes so it can firm up (it’s key!) and serve with green salad and some really soft bread for mopping up.