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Lasagne; Meat Recipe

An Italian dish consisting of layers of flat pasta sandwiched between a moist filling. Traditional fillings vary from region to region. This might consist of vegetables (perhaps globe artichoke bottoms), fish or meat; but Bolognese sauce is popular throughout Italy, and would never be used with spaghetti in its homeland.

The whole is then baked often covered with a tomato or white sauce. Here we give a version from Bologna. It will be even better if you make your own lasagne - but this is for special occasions only, as it's too time consuming for most British households.

Ingredients

For 4 helpings:

For the Bolognese Sauce -

1 lb/450gr Lean Minced Beef
4 oz/120gr Streaky Bacon, finely-chopped
2 oz/60gr Chicken Livers (optional, but traditional)
2 tablespoons (30ml) Olive Oil
1 big Onion, peeled and finely-chopped
1 big Carrot, peeled and finely-chopped
2 stalks of Celery, washed then finely-chopped
2 medium cloves of Garlic, peeled then finely-chopped
6 fl.oz/175ml Dry White Wine
10 fl.oz/½ pint/300ml Water
3 tablespoons (45ml) Tomato Purée
2 Bay Leaves
a large pinch of Dried Oregano
Salt and freshly-ground Black Pepper

For the White Sauce topping -

2 oz/60gr Butter
2 tablespoons (30ml) Flour
1½ pints/900ml Milk
a few grates, or a large pinch, Nutmeg - the former will have more flavour
Salt and freshly-grated Pepper, to taste
4 oz/120gr freshly-grated Parmesan Cheese

For the Pasta -

6 oz/180gr of Dried Lasagne Pasta - or if you have a pasta machine, make your own
Equipment needed: a wide and deep, ovenproof, baking dish about 9" x 9" (21cm x 21cm)

Method

1.Make the Bolognese Sauce first, it will develop more flavour if it cooks for a long time slowly, and even better if it's cooked the day before.

2.So, gently heat the olive oil in a deep and wide frying pan or flame-proof casserole.

3.Add the chopped onions, bacon, celery and carrot and 'sweat' gently until the onions are soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook slowly for a further minute.

4.Increase the heat to medium and add the beef mince, breaking it up and turning it over with a wooden spoon to dispel any lumps - continue frying until the meat has evenly browned.

5.Add the herbs, wine, water and tomato purée and mix well in.

6.Cook, as slowly as possible for 1 hour, then add the chopped chicken livers (if using) and cook for a further 5 minutes.

7.Check the sauce for seasoning - the amount of salt will depend on your taste and the saltiness of the bacon. Set the sauce aside.

8.To make the white sauce -melt the butter gently in a heavy saucepan, remove it from the heat, then carefully mix in the flour, using a wooden spoon.

9.Heat the milk, so it's hot but not boiling, then little by little add this to the butter and flour mixture - returning this to a low heat when you have a smooth blend. Continue stirring until you have a creamy sauce.

10.Add salt, pepper and nutmeg - mix this well in, then remove the pan from the heat.

11.Cook the lasagne sheets according to their packet instructions. Drain it and rise it through with cold water to help stop it sticking. (Some forms of lasagne don't need pre-cooking).

12.Assembly - spread a thin layer of the Bolognese sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Follow this with a layer of white sauce then a covering of pasta. Continue in this way finishing with a layer of white sauce.

13.Sprinkle the grated cheese over this.

* The dish can be prepared ahead up to this point.

14.When ready to cook bake in the oven on 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 30 minutes.

Serve, perhaps with a salad.

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