Friday, February 03, 2006

Day 4 - Lasagne

Lasagne is a favourite food in this house. Personally, I don't like it that much, but I still make it because I know I do it well and it is loved like a baby. This was tonight's version, quite different from usual because we've got no money until next week so I had to work with what I had

4 onions
1 large carrot
6 gloves garlic, crushed/chopped
170g tomato paste (a small Homebrand tin)
1 big glass Shiraz (tonight it was a 2002 Audrey Wilkinson - very nice)
1kg mince (I used decent hamburger mince from Bert's, our legend butcher)
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 punnet cherry tomatoes

parmesan cheese

Heat a little oil in a big saucepan
Add the onions and carrot and sweat off slowly. I'm talking 20 minutes at least.
Add the garlic about half way through.
Keep it quite wet, if it dries out add some water
Then add the tomato paste and cook it out for a minute or so
Add the wine and cook off the alcohol
Add the mince, brown and break it up as you do so. I hate big chunks of mince, they make me gag.
Add the tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and enough stock that it gets good boiling/simmering movement.
Cook for about 2 hours, 'pop' the cherry tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon against the side of the saucepan if they don't do so themselves.
Near the end of cooking I added a big handful of fresh basil from the garden (covered attractively with chookwire to stop the possums eating it), some sage leaves from the garden (which the possums don't touch) and a fresh bayleaf (from the garden, which today I noticed has something that looks suspiciously like miele bug on it...).

To make the bechamel
Melt two hefty tablespoons of butter
Add enough flour that it goes crumbly
Cook for a while until it gets a bit of colour
Add boiling water with a whisk to make a paste, then keep adding - for that amount of flour/water I use about a litre. (normally I use milk, but we were all out)
Bring to the boil but whisk fairly constantly.
Season with salt and pepper
Add a shitload of shredded parmesan (I used the crap pre-shredded stuff as it was all we had)

Cook lasagne sheets. I don't care what you say, the sheets you have to cook taste so much better in the end product. I use this awesome brand La Lavigna or something - its a red and white clear packet from Livoti's, my Italian deli haven in Dee Why.

Layer as follows
ricotta (a 500g tub)
pasta bechamel

That's right people - LOTS of layers. This is important. As important as a slow long cooked sauce.

Even though I used water in the bechamel rather than milk, it tasted OK. Weird huh.


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