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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Beef lasagna

I get my inspirations on what to cook for dinner from the oddest of source. But sometimes I would just stand there in front of the fridge and couldn't decide at all. A cook's block that's what I call it. There are a few mainstay in my freezer. A whole chicken, sausage rolls, frozen pizza dough, beef mince, pork mince, puff pastry, lamb chops and sausages for a quick barbie and some unrecognizable objects pushed at the back which will only be discovered in the next bi-annual fridge clean up.

The idea to make lasagna started with my craving for garlic bread. I thought the garlic bread would be nice to mop a creamy,saucy lasagna. The meat sauce is actually a basic bolognese sauce. The carrot, celery and onion will add a natural sweetness to the sauce. I have a strong aversion to sweet pasta sauce. It makes one ask if he is eating dinner or dessert. It's alright to add a tablespoon of sugar if the passata you use is really acidic but please i beg you... don't use ketchup!

I seldom use butter. If I can get away with it I substitute it with olive oil. My garlic bread is made with olive oil infused with garlic, parsley and basil. You'll never have it any other way again once you tried it. Just brush it on a good crusty bread like pane di casa or french bread or you can use you everyday sandwich bread just like i did. The oil is also good to fry your croutons in to add to caesar salad. But that's for another blog.

beef lasagna

meat sauce:
500gms beef mince
1 700ml passata
1 medium carrot (grated)
3 stalks celery (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
3 cloves crushed garlic
pinch of oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 c beef broth
salt and pepper
1 packet lasagna

Heat half the olive oil in a pan and brown the beef mince in high heat. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat the remaining olive oil and add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Lower the stove to medium heat. Add the vegetables and let it sweat for 10 mins. Return the mince to the pan and add the passata bay leasf, oregano and the beef broth and season with salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop.

bechamel sauce:
3 c milk
3 tbsp flour
30gms butter
pinch of nutmeg
mozarella cheese

Turn the stove to medium heat. Melt the butter and add the flour in a saucepan and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually add the milk and nutmeg while whisking. Return to the stove and continue whisking until the sauce thickens but in a pouring consistency.

Spread the bottom of a baking dish with 1 cup of meat sauce. Arrange the lasagna sheet then top it with meat sauce then the bechamel sauce. Repeat this procedure ending with the bechamel sauce on top. 3 or 4 layers should be good depending on the depth of the dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake in 190 degree oven for for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Let it set for 20 minutes before serving.

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