I'd planned to cook Lasagne al Forno today, so made the meat sauce yesterday to get ahead. I made the cheese sauce earlier today, along with some garlic butter (for garlic bread, de rigeur as far as we're concerned) so all I had to do was assemble the thing, stick it in the oven just after 5 and throw together a green salad while the garlic bread was cooking.
Lasagne al Forno
For the meat sauce:
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
bay, thyme and rosemary, to taste, finely chopped
500g beef mince
1 tin chopped tomatoes + 1tbsp tomato puree
dash of milk
Cook the vegetables and herbs gently, in a little olive oil, until soft. Add the mince and brown it thoroughly. Tip in the tomatoes and tomato puree and add 1/2 a can of water (or red wine, if you've got a bottle open). Stir in the milk, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
For the cheese sauce:
3/4 pint milk
40g plain flour
25g butter, cubed
80g strong cheese, finely grated (usually mature cheddar)
200g crème fraîche (I like Rachel's Dairy organic crème fraîche)
Put the milk, flour and butter into a saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking all the time. When it boils, turn the heat down and simmer, still whisking, for a couple of minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. When the sauce has cooled a little, beat in the crème fraîche.
6-8 lasagne sheets (the 'no pre-cooking' sort. I use enjoy organic)
80g strong cheese, coarsely grated
*optional* 1 ball mozzarella cheese, torn into small bits, if you want to be fancy
Put a layer of meat sauce in the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. Top with lasagne sheets, then follow this with a layer of the cheese sauce. Scatter over the mozzarella, if you're using it (I don't always, but it is lovely if I do). Follow with the rest of the meat sauce, more lasagne sheets and the rest of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and add a good grinding of black pepper. Bake at 180°c for about 40 minutes (give it a bit longer if the sauces have been made ahead and are, therefore, cold). You can actually assemble the whole thing a day in advance if you like. I often do when the in-laws are coming to visit, as Hubby's mum loves Lasagne (and I'm a terrible old suck-up, I know).
It was an absolutely massive offering, but Hubby and Christopher will eat the leftovers for dinner tomorrow evening, as I am going out (hooray!) to a "Bring & Share Supper" for Mums, being held in Aberystwyth. The garlic bread was great, but 8 cloves of garlic and still not strong enough? I don't know whether we're seriously addicted, or if garlic is just not as strong as it used to be.
1 baguette loaf
150g unsalted butter, very soft
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
handful parsley, finely chopped
grinding of fresh black pepper
Beat the garlic, parsley and pepper to taste into the soft butter. Slice the baguette and spread each slice (on both sides) with the garlic butter. Put the slices back together to resemble the original loaf, wrap loosely in foil and cook for about 7 minutes at 180°c. Unwrap the foil parcel and cook for a further 5-7 minutes, until the crust feels crisp again. Serve immediately.
Leftovers will be fine the following day if you keep it wrapped in foil and halve the cooking times given above to reheat it. Don't, whatever you do, put it in the fridge. A cool place will be just dandy.
I don't think I need to eat again until tomorrow evening after that lot! Bet I will, though...