Homemade lasagna is a labour of love. Even though not particularly difficult dish it requires a certain amount of culinary skill and a few simple tricks to perfect this Italian classic. With this recipe you can absolutely not fail as it is absolutely foolproof. The end result will be a lasagna with perfectly cooked pasta, a delicious bolognese ragout, a creamy béchamel and a crispy golden top. Who can say no to that?
Call me Garfield because I love lasagna! When made well it is one of the best dishes in the world and that used to be something I struggled with. Either it ended up a little too soupy when pre boiling the pasta sheets or the pasta was not cooked all the way when using dry sheets. Homemade pasta sheets weren’t any better as your supposed to boil them first, which is ridiculous if you ask me. I had pretty much given up on making lasagna as it didn’t seem worth the effort.
Then I saw Chris Morrocco making BA’s Best Lasagna on youtube (BA’s Best Lasagne video) and decided to give it another try. I did not use that recipe itself but rather the method of assembly, specifically how he pre-boiled the pasta sheets and layered them in different directions. Dare I say that I have also improved his method of assembly because thanks to a little trick I managed to not lose any pasta sheets to being glued together. All you need to do is keep the pasta sheets seperated by spatulas as you boil them in batches for three minutes. This will save you a lot of trouble. I used my own recipe bolognese recipe because I was not unhappy with the flavour of mine. BA’s Best also simmered the sauce in the oven which just seemed unnecessarily complicated. It’s also the appliance that requires the most electricity so I avoid it whereever I can. You have to give it to the method though as I have never made a lasagna that held together that well with pasta that was perfectly cooked.
I won’t lie to you, lasagna is a lot of work and dishes. This recipe and method will definitely help you make the perfect lasagna, it is delicious and easy. You can even use the two-spatula trick when making your lasagna recipe, because your recipe might be perfect already.
Bolognese Lasagna with Béchamel Sauce
• Olive oil
• 500 gr ground meat (beef and pork mix)
• 2 red onions, diced
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tbl tomato paste
• 2 peeled tomatoes, diced
• 250 ml vegetable stock
• 1 tbl white wine vinegar
• 1 can/ 500 ml tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
• 1 tbl Italian herbs (fresh, dried or frozen)
• 20 gr butter
• 20 gr flour
• 250 ml whole milk
• 100 ml vegetable stock
• 100 gr parmesan, grated (optional)
• 12-15 lasagne sheets
• Cheese, sliced or grated (mozzarella, gouda, cheddar)
- For the Bolognese ragout begin by browning the ground meat in a little olive oil in a large pot until it has released all the fat, then add the onion and bay leaf. Sauté until the onions are soft. Add the garlic, sauté until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and fresh tomato and cook for about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper before deglazing the pot with vegetable stock and the white wine vinegar, scraping the bottom. Add the can of tomatoes and let everything simmer for at least one hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper (and sugar to balance acidity of the sauce) and add the Italian herbs.
- For the béchamel sauce melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium high until foamy, add the flour and stir with a whisk until smooth. Cook the flour for about two minutes. Start adding the liquids in stages making sure to stir until smooth in between. Cook the sauce for five minutes before seasoning with salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg. One can also add grated parmesan to the béchamel.
- To prepare the lasagna sheets bring well seasoned water to a boil and cook the lasagne sheets three at a time for three minutes (best separated with a spatula in between the sheets to keep them from sticking). Lay them out in layers on and separated by baking paper until needed. Don’t throw away the pasta water as it can be used to loosen up the béchamel sauce if needed.
- Assemble the lasagna by putting about a half cup of sauce into the bottom of a lightly greased casserole dish. Put down one layer of pasta sheets, cover them with Bolognese ragout. Add béchamel sauce on every second layer on top of the Bolognese ragout. Repeat that step until all the sauce and pasta sheets have been used up depending on the size and depth of your dish that should 4-6 layers.
- Preheat the oven to 180”C and cover the lasagne with lightly greased aluminium foil. Bake the lasagna for about 35 minutes. Remove the foil, cover the lasagna generously with cheese and put it under the broiler for about ten minutes until golden and crispy. Keep a close eye on it to keep it from burning. Let the lasagna rest for at least ten minutes before slicing into it.
So here you have my best lasagna recipe and two-spatula trick that will hopefully make your next lasagna endeavour a little easier. I will definitely make it more often although next time I will probably experiment with a vegetarian lasagna. Next to eating experimenting is the most fun part of cooking. The worst part are clearly the dishes. Have a great day!