Chocolate has been a favourite addition to Sicilian dishes since the Spanish dominion brought the new ingredient to Modica, Sicily, at the end of the 16th century. Since then, the Modicans have become known for their high-quality chocolate, often using it in savoury dishes such as rabbit ragùs and mince pastries. In this lasagne, it adds a velvety shine, and paired with the cinnamon, a slight sweetness to the mince.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 800 g minced veal
- 500 g minced pork
- 250 ml (1 cup) red wine
- 250 ml (1 cup) beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 700 ml passata (puréed tomatoes)
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 1 basil sprig
- 40 g (¼ cup) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 8 fresh lasagne sheets
- 100 g (1 cup) grated mozzarella
- 1.2 L milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 100 g butter
- 100 g (⅔ cup) plain flour
- 50 g (⅔ cup) grated parmesan
- 150 g (1½ cup) grated mozzarella
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.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add veal and pork and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until browned all over. Season with salt and pepper.
Add red wine and simmer for 8 minutes or until almost completely reduced. Add beef stock, bay leaves, passata, cinnamon and basil. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1½ hours or until thickened and reduced. Stir through chopped chocolate and season. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make béchamel sauce, place milk and bay leaf in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Melt butter in a separate saucepan over medium–low heat then add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes until well combined (this will ensure the flavour of the flour is removed). Remove bay leaf and discard. Working in batches, add milk to flour mixture, about 250 ml at a time, stirring constantly until smooth and creamy. Once all milk has been added, simmer gently for 5 minutes, then stir through parmesan and mozzarella. Season.
Preheat oven to 170°C. Spoon a little of the meat ragù in a deep ovenproof dish. Add a layer of pasta, trimming to fit, then spread over some of the béchamel, then more ragù. Continue layering pasta, béchamel and ragù, finishing with a layer of béchamel. Scatter 100g mozzarella over the top then bake for 50 minutes or until golden and bubbling; cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly. Serve immediately.
Photography Ben Dearnley