On Making The Perfect Lasagna

If there’s one reason that I’m sure that my fiance definitely wants to marry me – it’s because of the lasagna that I make. It’s his absolute favouritefavouritefavourite.

One time at band camp when The Kid and I took a trip to Durban and left him behind in Jozi, I made him a huge dish of lasagna that was meant to last him for dinners the 2/3 nights we were away. He ate the entire thing, in one sitting. It’s that good.

Quick tip – it’s usually best to make it the day before you need it – it really is perfection the next day. Although it takes 2-3 hours to make, including preparation and cooking time – it’s totally worth all the hard work and dirty dishes.

INGREDIENTS: (this should make enough to feed 3-4 people, or adjust accordingly – my measurements are not exact, because I’ve never figured out how to make exactly the right amount of white sauce. I usually land up making too much or too little)

  • 250g beef mince (or lamb, ostrich mince – whatever)
  • 3-4 big red juicy tomatoes, skinned
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can All Gold Mexican tomato mix (or whichever you prefer
  • 1 pack of lasagna sheets
  • 4-5 eggs
  • milk
  • flour
  • butter/margarine
  • olive oil
  • cheese
  • courgettes
  • mushrooms
  • garlic
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Chutney
  • Salt/herbs/spices of your choice

THE HOW-TO:

  1. Pour some olive oil into a pan and brown the mince. Add some onions, salt, garlic, courgettes and mushrooms and cook, until everything is tender. Tip everything out into a bowl, and set aside.
  2. To skin your tomatoes, place them in a bowl, boil the kettle and cover the tomatoes in boiling water. Leave them for a few minutes until you see the skin starting to split. Remove and peel off the skin. Slice and dice those bitches.
  3. Pour some more olive oil into your pan, throw in the onions and some salt. The salt stops the onions from burning. Once the onions are translucent, add your choice of herbs and spices – I use cumin, sage and garlic.
  4. Then add the tomatoes and stir while cooking for a bit longer. Pour in about a cupful of water and add the chicken stock cube and chutney and about half the can of tomato mix. You’re going to want to let this cook for about half an hour, on a fairly low heat. You’ll know it’s ready when the tomatoes that you’ve chopped have pretty much disintegrated. This is the sauce that goes with the mince that you just cooked, and you want it to not be too liquid-ish, if that makes sense. It must be thick and relish-like. Once it’s done, pour it over the meat mixture and stir well. If it’s a bit runny, you can bung the bowl in the microwave and nuke it for 5 mins.
  5. Pre-cook the lasagna sheets until they’re a bit floppy. This step is important. Don’t think you can cop out by buying lasagna sheets that claim you don’t need to cook them. You do. It’s important. (Tip: cooking 1/2 lasagna sheets at a time, and laying them out on a board to cool – prevent them from sticking to each other)
  6. For the white sauce: a few hefty tablespoons of butter/marge melted in a pot. Pour in flour, a little at a time, and mix until the flour has gone completely yellow. This should be done over a medium heat to prevent scorching the flour.
  7. Slowly pour in some milk, again, a little at a time, and blend like a mofo with a whisk or a fork. Keep adding more flour and milk until you have a thick consistency. Think wallpaper paste. Add some salt and a handful of grated cheese.
  8. Remember that mince and sauce combo you made? Stir in 4/5 eggs into that, combine well. Now you’re ready to start layering.
  9. You’ll need a square-ish, deep oven-safe dish and you’ll need to grease it well. Spoon in a layer of the meat/tomato/egg mix, then a layer of white sauce and cover this with the lasagna sheets. I cut my sheets with scissors and make them fit squarely into the container, so each layer is separated.  Repeat until your dish is full, ending with (in my experience) a layer of white sauce. Don’t be tempted to put the cheese on top before popping it into the oven. Don’t do it.
  10. Put the dish into the oven at about 140 degrees Celsius. You’re going to need to cook this at a low heat, over a long-ish period of time. 1.5-2 hours should do it.
  11. Just before you’re done cooking it, add the cheese on top and grill on a higher heat, until the cheese bubbles.
  12. It definitely needs to cool before slicing and serving.

If you’ve got it right – it should slice perfectly, much like a cake, instead of being a gooey, oozy mess.

Take note:

  • The eggs are important.
  • A low oven temperature is also important.
  • The sauce you make for the mince mixture must not be runny.
  • Pre-cooking the lasagna is non-negotiable.

And that… is how you make the perfect lasagna. So what are you waiting for?

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5 Responses to On Making The Perfect Lasagna

  1. Dawn says:

    Duly bookmarked 😉

  2. Tyron says:

    Oh, YEAH! This is on my to-make-for-supps list this week 🙂

  3. Richard - Giant says:

    Sounds yummy!

  4. alidaonline says:

    Bookmarked. Definitely going to give this a try.
    alidaonline´s last blog post ..Something I Remembered about Dad

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