Oven baked

LASAGNE

This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan (via Tamasin Day-Lewis).  It is simple, even if not exactly quick to make (I allow a couple of hours from start to finish) - but absolutely delicious and worth the time.  I make the ragu fairly liquid, using a large can of tomatoes, so that I can use dried lasagne sheets (not the quick-cook sort) without boiling them first.  They cook fine in the juicy sauce.

Serves 8.

Ingredients

2 T olive oil

2 large onions

3 sticks celery

3 carrots

4 large cloves garlic

2 lb ground beef (15% fat, like our Pym Farm ground)

2 bay leaves

1 cup milk

1 cup white wine

1 large can (28 oz) Italian whole plum tomatoes OR in summer, about 2lb fresh tomatoes

1 box dried lasagne

Plenty of freshly grated Parmesan

For the bechamel sauce:

4 cups milk

6 T butter

6 T flour

Grated nutmeg

Method

1.  Make the beef ragu: finely chop the vegetables.  Saute the onion in oil in a large pan until translucent.  Add celery, carrots and garlic and cook another 5 minutes.  Add beef, a large pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper.  Saute until the beef is nicely browned.  Add bay leaves and 1 cup milk and simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Add wine and simmer until it's evaporated.  Chop the tomatoes and add them with their juice.  Bring to a gentle simmer (ie the occasional bubble) and cook, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.  Check seasoning.

2. While the ragu is cooking, make the bechamel: melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir over low/medium heat for 5 minutes or so to cook the flour.  Add the milk gradually, stirring or whisking to keep the sauce smooth, another 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4.  Assemble the lasagne, starting with a layer of bechamel, then pasta, then ragu and repeating until your sauces are used up.  Finish with bechamel and cover with freshly grated Parmesan.

5.  Bake for about 40-50 minutes until the dish is bubbling and a knife slips through easily.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving with a green salad.