One of the first things I remember cooking for guests was a Delia Smith Lasagne, it wasn’t a complete disaster but my bechamel sauce didn’t thicken enough and the lasagne collapsed. It looked terrible but it tasted delicious. That was 9 years ago – naturally over the years the recipe has stopped being Delia’s and has now become my own, I’ve sneaked in some vegetables which depending on who was being cooked for decided how small the vegetables were chopped. I’m often asked for the recipe, so I’ve been meaning to add it to the blog for ages. To make the lasagne is a enough of a daunting task, but to then photograph it (nicely) and write about it afterwards brings out a cold sweat! Don’t let that put you off, it’s actually quite simple just time consuming but very rewarding. I’m going to give you the recipe in stages – firstly here is the recipe for the Ragù sauce and when I’m brave enough I’ll let you know the rest.
serves 6 as a Bolognese Sauce
1 large red onion
2 garlic cloves
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
500g / 1lb beef mince
1 large courgette
1 red pepper
1 punnet of mushrooms
1 red chilli
2 x 400g / 14 oz tinned tomatoes
a BIG squeeze of tomato puree
a splash of red wine
a handful of basil leaves
a sprinkling of dried oregano
When making ragù I like to get everything chopped and ready before I start on the heat, as the early stages of cooking need your full attention so that nothing catches.
You’ll need a large heavy bottomed pan (with a lid) Place it on a medium heat with a little drizzle of olive oil and lightly fry your onions for about 5-10 minutes until softened, then add your chopped or crushed garlic – moving it constantly with a wooden spoon for a few minutes, then add the bacon – fry for about 5 minutes and finally the balsamic vinegar – turn the heat up and allow it to caramelize.
Turn the heat to low and add your mince, keep moving it until all your meat is browned.
Add all your vegetables, chilli, tinned tomatoes, puree, wine and herbs. Bring it to boil, season and then put the lid on and turn the heat down to a simmer. Leave it for 45 minutes, occasionally stirring it to stop anything catching on the bottom.
Remove the lid after 45 minutes and continue to simmer for a further 45 minutes – again occasionally stirring.
Finally give it a taste and season if needed. At the end of it you should have a richly concentrated sauce, full of flavour and melt in the mouth mince.