Saturday, November 9, 2013

Beef Lasagne

As Mr G was clearing the dishes after dinner, he started whinging about how he's always clearing the dishes. I told him "I've always offered you the chance to cook while I babysit and clean up, but you always say that I'm the cook". Well, I knew he would rather "clean up" than cook anyway, and dare I say that I trust my cooking more? Haha. I have to give him credit for some of his culinary skills. Let's see now... Mr G's forte lies in his famous Hainanese chicken rice. Famous because anyone who is invited to our home for the first time is usually treated to this Singaporean favourite. Oooh...he bakes a good pineapple-glazed Christmas ham, and roast beef too. We'll be looking forward to that soon! And last but not least, he does a pretty good lasagne. I say "pretty good" because the recipe is in his head, and sometimes it can be a little inconsistent. The last lasagne he made had too much béchamel and mozzarella cheese in it. He blamed it on the brand of cheese he used. However, little H loved the cheesiness and sauciness of the lasagne.


I decided that I would have a go at making lasagne this time, and I have made it in the past before. The only thing was that I forgot which recipe I used, and it wasn't on my blog either. Basic lasagne recipes are quite similar, with differences in the amount of meat it contains, and whether béchamel sauce is used.  I love mine with the creamy béchamel, and so here's a simple recipe for delicious lasagne that you can try at home.
Beef Lasagne
Serves 8
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
120g bacon, diced
600g beef mince
1 large carrot, diced
4 tbsp tomato paste
800g canned diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried oregano or Italian herbs
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and black pepper
250g lasagne sheets
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Béchamel sauce:
80g butter
1/3 cup plain flour
3 cups milk
3/4 cup grated parmesan
Salt and black pepper
In a large deep pan, heat oil and fry the onions until softened. Add garlic and bacon and fry for 2 minutes. Add the beef mince and break it up with the spatula. Mash it up if you can so that it doesn't form large clumps when cooked.

Next, add the carrot, followed by tomato paste, diced tomatoes, red wine, bay leaf,  herbs, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 2 hours until it's slightly reduced but not runny. Add sugar, salt and black pepper to taste. By then, it should taste rich and aromatic, so you know it's ready. Turn off heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
Prepare béchamel sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Continue stirring for 2 minutes until it's cooked. It shouldn't smell of raw flour. Gradually add milk and stir to mix into a paste, until you get a smooth white sauce. Continue stirring for a few minutes until it starts to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Stir in parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Don't let the sauce get too thick, as it will continue to thicken upon standing. Turn off heat and set aside.

In a large deep rectangular casserole dish, spoon a thin layer of the meat sauce over the bottom. Place a layer of lasagne sheets on top. Ladle some meat sauce over, followed by a layer of béchamel. Repeat layering with the lasagne sheet, meat sauce and béchamel until you reach the top. Finish off by scattering the grated parmesan and mozzarella over the béchamel layer.
Cover the dish loosely with aluminium foil, and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes until the top of the lasagne browns.  Serve immediately with a side of salad and garlic bread.