Rich, thick and herb filled meat sauce, the nutty flavour from the bechamel and generous amounts of cheese. Beef lasagna.
Lasagna,such a decadent and indulgent dish that I reserve for special occasions. Lasagna is somewhat lengthy however the results are worth the time.
The secret to amazing lasagna lies in the meat sauce or ragu. Once you nail the flavours in the sauce, you are set.
As per usual, whenever I’m replicating a foreign dish, I give a disclaimer, here goes; so I’m Gatuiri and as you can tell I’m not Italian however I enjoy making lasagna.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get cooking.
This recipe follows three steps :
Step 1: Making the meat sauce / ragú
This process takes the most time and with good reason since it’s the highlight of the dish.
In a big saucepan, heat some oil, olive oil is preferred, however vegetable oil will work just fine.
Saute the onions until translucent then add the garlic.
Once the garlic is fragrant, add the ground beef. Using your wooden spoon, separate the ground beef.
Cook the beef, stirring occasionally until browned.
Usually I use white wine when making my meat sauce, however this time round I didn’t have any on hand. Feel free to add about a glass to deglaze the pan.
Seasoning for the meat sauce is key, I use Italian seasoning.
Italian seasoning is basically a medley of some herbs and spices. I made my own which had several dried herbs.
Add in the seasoning, salt and black pepper.
The sauce normally requires quite an amount of tomato puree, you can buy canned tomato puree or if you are frugal like me just make some. It’s pretty easy, in boiling water blanch your tomatoes, skin them and pulse in a blender to puree.
Add the pureed tomatoes to the ground beef, also add a tablespoon of sugar. The sugar cuts through the tomatoes acidity.
I didn’t have dried basil so I added fresh basil leaves to the sauce.
Let the sauce come to a boil and over medium low heat, let it simmer covered for at least one hour.
The sauce will darken in colour and thicken. Yum.
Step 2: Making the white sauce / bechamel
Several lasagna recipes that I have seen use of ricotta cheese, in the filling while others use bechamel, I usually use the latter.
The milk should be scalded, meaning heat until bubbles appear of the sides of the sufuria.
The secret to smooth bechamel is constant stirring and working fast, so ensure all your ingredients are measured out before you turn on the heat.
In a pan melt the butter.
After 2 minutes and still stirring, pour in the milk. Continue to stir to integrate the milk with the flour butter mixture .
The sauce will thicken and after 4 – 5 minutes of stirring,turn off the heat and then season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg. The nutmeg adds a lovely nutty flavour to the sauce, you don’t want to omit it.
Once the sauces are ready, assembly begins.
Pre heat the oven at 425 degrees F about 210 degrees C.
Also get your cheese ready.
In a rectangle oven proof dish, start by adding a little of the meat sauce.
Sprinkle over some mozzarella cheese.
Then layer the lasagna pasta sheets.
I use them raw, the pasta cooks while in the oven.
Then spread over the white sauce.
Sprinkle over more mozzarella.
Then follow up with the a generous helping of the meat sauce.
Then layer more pasta sheets, this time round lay them width-wise.
Repeat the process, white sauce, cheese then meat sauce then the lasagna pasta sheets.
The final layer should be the meat sauce then top it off with the rest of the cheese.
Tent the dish with some aluminum foil and bake covered for 30 minutes.
Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
Once done. Let it stand for about 10 minutes before slicing into it.
Serve with a side of bread rolls or salad.
There you have it, beef lasagna.
Perfect for this festive season.
This recipe is guaranteed to wow your guests. My brother usual camps at my house whenever I make it.