Three-cheese and slow-cooked bolognese lasagne

Slow-cooked bolognese lasagne.
Slow-cooked bolognese lasagne. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Kid-friendly

A few key things: Go to a butcher. Ask them to mince you some chuck steak. Your lasagne will appreciate your efforts. Supermarket mince has no place here. Secondly, add milk. It works to soften the meat proteins and after a long, slow cook, adds a delightful sweetness that offsets the tartness of the wine. You can also pop this in the slow cooker and let it do its thing overnight. Or make like Heston Blumenthal and pop it in a 110C oven for six hours.

Ingredients

Bolognese

50ml olive oil

100g pancetta, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

2 sticks celery, finely diced

1kg minced chuck steak

150ml milk

2 tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves

250ml dry white wine

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

250ml tomato passata

2 tbsp tomato paste

Bechamel (white sauce)

5 cups (1.25L) milk

1 brown onion, peeled, sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cloves

1 bay leaf

125g butter

100g plain flour

1 nutmeg, to grate (about ¼ tsp ground nutmeg)

salt and pepper, to season

To assemble

9 fresh lasagne sheets

Cheese mix

½ cup grated parmesan

½ cup grated fontina

½ cup grated mozzarella

Method

For the bolognese, add the oil to a large frypan over a gentle heat. Add the pancetta. Once this has started to soften, add the garlic and onion, cook until soft, then add the carrot. Cook for five minutes. Add the celery, cook for another two minutes. Add the mince and cook until just starting to brown.

Pour in the milk and cook for about 10 minutes before adding the oregano, wine, chopped tomatoes, passata and tomato paste. Cover and cook over very gentle heat for three hours (four is even better), checking regularly, until reduced and thickened. If the sauce is reducing too quickly, adjust your heat to a lower setting and add more tinned tomatoes.

For bechamel, combine milk, onion, garlic, cloves and bay leaves in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes. Remove the bay leaf and keep warm. In a separate heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter, then add flour and stir over medium heat until combined and starting to colour (one to two minutes). Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the milk mixture until well combined and smooth. Return pan to low heat and cook, stirring, until sauce thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon (10 to 15 minutes). Season to taste with nutmeg, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a two-litre capacity ovenproof dish with olive or ricebran oil. Arrange three lasagne sheets in a single layer on the base of the dish. Spread one third of bolognese sauce over base, spread over one third of bechamel, scatter with quarter of a cup of the cheese mix. Top with three overlapping pasta sheets, trimmed to fit. Repeat twice, finishing with bechamel. Scatter with remaining cheese and bake until golden (25 to 30 minutes). Stand for 10 minutes, then serve.

Tip: Leftover bolognese freezes like a dream.

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