This weekend I was in the mood for a bit of Italian, so I thought I would go for a nice and basic lasagna. I had come across a pretty simple recipe by one Gordon Ramsay a few weeks ago and decided that would be our dish! I strayed only very slightly from the original recipe and it came out spectacular!
Name: Lasagne al Forno
The main bits:
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 large Onion, peeled
- 2 Carrots, peeled
- 2 Celery stalks
- 4 cloves Garlic, peeled
- 4 pinches Oregano, dried
- 1/8lb Pancetta, diced small
- 1/4 lb Ground Veal
- 1/4 lb Ground Pork
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 2 Tbs Tomato paste
- 1/4 c Red Wine
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2lbs Flavorino/Roma Tomatoes, skinned & chopped
- 1/3 c milk
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
- 12 sheets of Lasagna sheets, pre-cooked for 3 – 4 minutes
The Mornay sauce:
- 3 1/5 Tbs Butter
- 1/2 c Flour
- 2 1/2 c Whole Milk
- Pinch of ground Nutmeg
- 1/4 lb White Cheddar cheese, grated
- Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
- Heat the olive oil in a hot pan. Grate the onion, celery, garlic and carrot and mix with the diced pancetta before frying together. Season with the bay leaf, a pinch of oregano and a little salt and pepper. Allow the onion to soften before making a well in the center of the pan. Mix all the meats together and put in the center of the pan, stir to break up and cook. Once starting to brown, make another well in the center and add in the tomato paste (allow this to cook for about 30 seconds before stirring in). Continue cooking until all the meat has browned. Add the wine and cook off the alcohol before adding the tomatoes. Leave to simmer for a further 5-6 minutes. When the mixture has thickened and is quite fragrant, add the milk, turn off the heat and set aside.
- To make the mornay sauce, first melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and using a wooden spoon, stir to form a paste. Over a gentle heat add a third of the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps forming. Add the rest of the milk a third at a time, whisking as you go. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Allow the sauce to cook and thicken for another minute before adding the Cheddar cheese. Stir and remove from the heat.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray and spoon a quarter of the meat sauce into the bottom, then place three pasta sheets on top (break the sheets if necessary to avoid any overlapping). Next, pour in about a fourth of your Mornay sauce and spread evenly using a spatula. Use this process (meat, pasta, mornay) for the next three layers. You should end up with pasta covered with the last fourth of your mornay as the final layer.
- Finish with the grated Parmesan and sprinkle with another pinch of oregano. Add a light seasoning of salt and pepper before cleaning the edges of the dish and placing in the oven to bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Take out the lasagna and let it rest for 20 – 25 minutes before portioning out and serving.
Here are the major differences between this recipe and the original (besides the US measurements), nothing too major:
- I doubled the size of the lasagna from one with 4 servings to one with 8.
- I didn’t use no-bake pasta.
- I added celery to make a true mirepoix.
- I changed the simple ground beef to a more flavorful mix.
- I added some pancetta for flavor and fat (which is why I didn’t double the olive oil).
- I removed the Worcestershire sauce (I didn’t think it was needed).
- Finally, I didn’t use tomatoes from a can, because I was able to get 2 lbs of fresh Flavorino tomatoes. Now, if you can’t get them fresh, there’s nothing wrong with a can, but look at these:
That is just absolutely beautiful! Sure, you have to skin,chop and seed them, but the flavor of a fresh (local grown, in my case) tomatoes just can’t be beat!
Well, that’s all for tonight… I hope someone out there decides to give this a shot as it’s completely worth it!