Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our Traditional Lasagne

Ever since lasagne became part of the staple dishes on Australian dinner tables, there are different varieties of lasagne made, in restaurants, homes etc, and every family have add their own personal tough to it, some may not be that Italian.

In my family, I'm probably the only one who prefers ricotta cheese instead of the traditional bechamel sauce, spinach or egg plant instead of any type of meat.  The meat eaters prefer what they know best, the lasagne with Bolognaise sauce - Ragu alla Bolognese.  However as Luke doesn't like bacon in his sauce, we only use bacon or pancetta when we have visitors.

I usually make my own pasta sheets for the lasagne - it's cheaper and never fails.

This is how we did it a couple of nights ago anyway:

Our Family Lasagne – Bolognese

Bolognese Sauce:

1 clove of garlic
1 onion, finely diced
Half red capsicum
Half of one shredded carrot,
1 shredded zucchini
Fresh parsley, finely chopped, about ¼ cup
Fresh Basil, finely chopped, about ¼ cup
Fresh oregano finely chopped, 1 tsp.
600g beef premium mince (we usually use just beef mince or beef premium mince, however some recipes do specify beef, veal and pork mince in equal portions)
2 stripes of bacon (finely chopped, optional)
1 can of peeled Italian tomatoes with juice
1 bottle of passata sauce 500ml
1 tsp of all spice
1 tsp of smoke paprika (this is definitely not traditional but family seem to like it)
Bit of cracked black pepper
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp raw sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup red wine

Béchamel Sauce:

2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
30g plain flour
40g butter
300ml milk
50ml full cream

Lasagne Sheets:

2 eggs (large, 59g)
200g plain flour (best to use “00”)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil

Extra mozzarella cheese.

1. Make pasta dough, make a well of plain flour, salt on working bench, and crack the eggs in. Make a rough dough and add in the olive oil. I prefer to work with pasta dough with olive oil as it’s easier to knead and less sticky – less dusting flour needed. It’s a hard dough and kneading is necessary to work out the gluten needed for the pasta sheets. Once the dough is smooth, let it set in a cool place cover with damp cloth (if it’s warm days, let it stay in the fridge)

2. Put olive oil to frying pan, sauté onion and garlic, add bacon to caramelise if adding bacon, for about 2-3 minutes, add mince, caramelise till fragrant, deglaze with wine, add herbs, mix well and then add shredded vegetables, add passata and peeled tomato, mix well and add all spice and paprika, salt, and cracked pepper. Cover lid and stir. Cook on lowest heat for 1 hour, make sure the sauce don’t dry out, if it does, add a bit of water or beef stock. By the time the sauce is ready to be assembled, it should be quite thick.

3. Make Béchamel sauce. Put butter in another non stick pan, and add flour when butter is all melt. Gently stir to cook the flour and add cream and milk. Stir well and make sure there’s no lumps of flour. Until it’s like a roux. Add salt and pepper to season. Add cheese, mix well till all melt. Take off heat and keep it warm.

4. By now, it’s time to make pasta. Cut dough into 3 portions and roll out to 0.5cms thick or thinner, so it will pass through the pasta maker. Fold and roll again, for a couple of times to work the gluten of the dough, until you are happy with the texture, smooth and silky. Adjust the dial and roll until it’s the thinnest – my pasta maker is manual and I usually prefer when it says 0.

5. Assemble. I like to use the normal loaf tins as it’s easy for me to serve and if there’s a tray that’s not being finished, I can freeze it as whole and no separate containers needed. This recipe makes 3 of 12cm X 24cms loaf tins. I normally put white sauce first, and then the pasta sheet, and then the bolognaise sauce, then the pasta sheet and the white sauce and another layer of bolognaise sauce, and then the pasta sheets and the white sauce and top with extra mozzarella cheese.

6. Bake in 190C oven for 30 minutes.

I suppose the children should still eat some greens... they don't usually like to have vinegarette so just a few lettuce leaves and slices of cucumber will do...

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