Rich Beef Lasagne

Lasagne is a great family dish being popular with kids and adults alike.
*I often pour any leftover red wine (up to about 1/2 a bottle) into the frying pan once the vegetables are finished.  This then bubbles and reduces and is then poured into the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
*Adding a few slices of chopped bacon or prosciutto to the pan with the meat will add a richness of flavour.

Yield: 8 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.2kg beef mince
  • 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 2 medium sized carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 150g mushrooms, finely chopped or grated (I grate to hide them from the kids)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato passata
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 60g butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 1/2 cups full cream milk, heated
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I use pre-grated Italian mix of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan)
  • 500g fresh lasagne sheets

Method

Heat a film of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and brown the mince in batches, breaking up clumps, until well coloured.
Transfer the browned meat to a large saucepan.
Reduce  the temperature to low, add more oil to the pan and gently cook the onion, garlic, celery and carrot for 12-15 minutes until it has started to soften. Transfer the vegetables to the pan with the mince and add the zucchini, mushrooms, passata, tomatoes and a generous seasoning of salt.
Cover and simmer on a low heat for 2 1/2 hours, stirring at times.  Add a little water if you really need to.
Once the mince is cooked then set aside.
Preheat the oven to 170 C.
To make the white sauce; melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat and add the flour.  Stir and cook for a minute or two before gradually adding the milk, stirring as you do so to avoid lumps.  Allow the sauce to boil and thicken.  Season with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat and scatter over 1 cup of the cheese and leave to sit and melt before gently stirring to combine.
Brush a large – approximately 30x25cm – baking dish with oil.
Line the base with pasta and then spoon over half the meat and then drizzle with one third of the cheese sauce.
Repeat the process again.  Cover with pasta and then top with the remaining cheese sauce.
Sprinkle with the extra cheese and a generous grind of pepper.
Bake the lasagne for 50 minutes, cover with foil if the top browns too quickly.
Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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