As any Italian nonna will attest, cooking an authentic lasagne isn't easy, but it's well worth the effort! This version features a rich ragù of beef mince, chicken livers and sausage meat, along with homemade pasta sheets, béchamel sauce and two types of cheese.
- 2⅔ cups (400 g) type ‘00’ flour
- 4 eggs
- butter, for greasing and for baking
- 200 g freshly grated parmigiano
- 300 g bocconcini, well-drained, torn
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 brown onion, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
- 400 g beef mince
- 100 g chicken livers, sinew removed with a paring knife
- 300 g pork sausage meat, removed from its casing
- salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 200 ml red wine
- 2 x 400 g tins tomatoes or 800 ml passata
- 1–2 bay leaves
- 60 g butter
- 60 g plain flour
- 1 litre milk
- pinch of salt flakes
- pinch of ground nutmeg
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 30 minutes
Resting time 30 minutes
To make the pasta, place the flour on a wooden board, make a well in the centre and drop in the eggs and salt. Mix together using your fingers or a fork, then knead vigorously for about 10 minutes. At first it will look crumbly, but once your body heat activates the starch in the flour the dough will change its texture, transforming into a smooth, firm ball. (If you want to speed things up you can mix the dough ingredients in a food processor until they resemble wet sand, then tip onto a floured board, bring together with your hands and knead for 1 minute.) Wrap the dough in plastic film and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
To make the ragù, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for 2–3 minutes or until softened. Add the beef, livers and sausage meat and brown over high heat for 3–4 minutes. (If your pan is too small, brown the meat in batches so that it doesn’t stew.) Season with a pinch of salt, then pour in the wine and cook over high heat for 2–3 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Add the tomatoes or passata and bay leaves and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 3–4 hours or until rich and flavoursome. After that time, taste it and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low–medium heat, add the flour and cook for 1–2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk vigorously to remove any lumps. Bring to a simmer and cook for 6–8 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.
Cut the pasta dough into quarters. Work with one piece at a time and keep the rest wrapped in plastic film to prevent it from drying out. Flatten the piece of dough with the palm of your hand, then pass it through the pasta machine’s widest setting three or four times, folding the dough into three each time. Continue passing the dough, each time through a thinner setting, until you get to the second-last setting or the sheet is roughly 3 mm thick. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin and a lot of elbow grease.
Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
Cut the rolled pasta into sheets to fit your lasagne dish. Blanch the pasta sheets in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 1 minute. Drain on clean tea towels, taking care not to overlap them.
To assemble the dish, grease a 30 cm x 45 cm baking dish with the butter. Spread a ladle of béchamel on the base and top with a layer of lasagne. Add a layer of ragù and béchamel, and sprinkle with a little parmigiano and bocconcini. Repeat with remaining ingredients to create 3–4 layers. Finish with a ladle each of bechamel and ragù and a final dusting of parmigiano. Scatter over a few small dots of butter, then cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10–15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Remove and cover with foil, then leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving.
• You can assemble the dish a day ahead and leave it in the fridge, covered in foil. When you are ready to cook it, put the baking dish (still covered in foil) in the preheated oven and bake as instructed above.
This recipe is from Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca. To find out more about the show, check out the episode guide, or scroll through Silvia's recipes. Tune in at 8pm, Thursday 27 November on SBS ONE.