I cry a little bit inside when I see ready meal lasagnes cut in brick-like wedges, ready for the microwave. A really good lasagne is truly a thing of beauty and should be treated as such. They take time, effort and love and the end result should be layers of rich meat sauce, creamy white sauce and perfectly cooked pasta. There are many different variations on this classic and this one features a rich white sauce with three different cheeses, which adds a wonderful dimension to the dish.
2 tbsp olive oil
500g beef mince
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
75g mushrooms, finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
250ml red wine
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Handful of basil leaves, chopped
8 sheets of lasagne
For The Cheese Sauce
50g plain flour
300ml warm milk
75g blue cheese, crumbled
75g Cheddar cheese, grated
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp English mustard
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mince and fry for 2–3 minutes until browned. Remove the mince from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Heat the rest of the oil in the frying pan, then add the bacon and fry for about 2 minutes until cooked through. Add the onion and garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes, then stir in the carrot and mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes more. Return the mince to the pan with the tomatoes, tomato purée, red wine and oregano. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper to taste, then stir through the basil.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas mark 5.
To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour quickly so you have a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer and simmer for 2 minutes until the sauce becomes thick. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheeses (saving a little of the blue cheese and Cheddar for sprinkling on the top) and English mustard. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
Spoon a layer of the Bolognese into a high-sided 27.5 x 20cm baking dish, then top with a layer of lasagne sheets followed by a layer of the cheese sauce. Repeat the process until the Bolognese and cheese sauces are used up, finishing with a layer of cheese sauce. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes until the lasagne is bubbling and browned on top. Serve straight to the table.