The dish that warms the soul.
Layers of fresh pasta sheets, rich ragù sauce and a creamy bèchamel sauce are the secret ingredients to mastering the outstanding beef lasagna.
As for a quick history and language lesson, the word “lasagna” is derived from the Greek word “laganon”, which refers to the first known form of pasta. Back all those centuries ago during the Medieval period, lasagna was just simply pasta sheets and sauce, completely different to how it is made today. So essentially, lasagna gets its name from the method involved in making the dish, not the ingredients themselves.
Getting to the real point here (Italian readers – please brace yourselves), in all fairness it was actually the Greeks who invented this culinary success, but unsurprisingly enough, many Italians will dispute this. One thing for sure is that the Italians can be credited for conquering and developing the recipe and turning it into the delightful dish that we know it to be today.
Now that you understand its history, have a go at making the traditional lasagna by following our recipe below.
700g pasta sheets
4 tbsp olive oil
1kg Pork mince
1kg Beef mince
1 cup red wine
2 brown onions grated
2 carrots grated
3 celery sticks grated
4 cloves of garlic grated
2kg crushed tomatoes
¼ bunch rosemary
½ bunch thyme
3 fresh and 6 dried bay leaves (total: 9)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1/2 tbsp sugar
1.5L – 2L warm milk
2 tsp salt
2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
Dice the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Drizzle 2 tbsp of oil in a pot and set on medium-high heat. Add the diced vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook until they become translucent.
Add the pork mince and the beef mince and cook for 20 minutes on high heat. Add the tomato passata, thyme, rosemary, then season again with salt and pepper and bring to boil.
Reduce to low heat and let the ragù simmer for 5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Set aside and let the ragù cool down.
To make the bechamel sauce, begin by whisking the butter and flour in a pot on low heat. This mixture is referred to as ‘roux’ – a french word that describes the combination of equal parts of butter and flour. You always need to put the same quantities of butter and flour to make a roux. Allow the roux to cook for 5-10 minutes, making sure it’s on low heat so that it doesn’t burn.
Slowly add the milk to the pot by adding one cup each time and stirring until combined. Once all of the milk has been added to the pot, continue to cook and stir until it reaches a creamy consistency. Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Make sure all of the spices have melted into the sauce and then turn off the heat.
Set aside for half an hour.
Soak the pasta sheets in water to soften.
Drizzle 2 tbsp of oil over a large tray. Cover the bottom of the tray with the pasta sheets, then add the ragù and bechamel. Repeat this step, layer by layer. Between each layer, sprinkle a little bit of parmesan cheese and mozzarella between each layer.
Cover the top of the lasagna with baking paper and then cover with foil. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees.
Take off the foil and baking paper and continue to cook the lasagna for another 5-10 minutes to give the lasagna a nice crust.
Take the lasagna out of the oven, let it rest for 10-15 minutes and then serve by cutting into equal portions.