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- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion,(Optionally: 2 Carrots and 2 Celery) finely chopped
- 3 lbs (1.5 kilo) minced (ground) beef
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- 1 can (400 g) quality chopped plum tomatoes
- 10-15 basil leaves, chopped or torn (or 1 tsp dried basil)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 5 crushed black peppercorns (or to taste)
- 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- (Optionally) 150-200 ml red wine
- One pack of lasagne sheets
- 1.5 pints (850 ml) béchamel sauce
- Finely grated parmesan
- One small pan for the bechamel sauce (preferably non-stick)
- One large, deep pan for the ragu
- A shallow oven-proof dish
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy base or non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. If the oil browns, turn the heat down.
- Add the onion and fry until golden brown
- Increase heat to high and add the meat and garlic. Fry until brown. Minced/ground beef takes some time to cook well. Fry until there is little moisture left in the pan. If necessary, spoon out any excess fat.
- Add the tomatoes and sugar, cover the pan and lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel sauce.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C
- Mix the basil, oregano, salt & pepper into the ragu.
- Place a thin layer of ragu in the base of the ovenproof dish and cover with a single layer of pasta sheets. Spread a layer of béchamel sauce over the pasta. Repeat this until you run out of meat, making sure that you have enough bechamel sauce left to cover the top layer of pasta.
- Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the top.
- Place the dish in the oven on the top shelf and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbling.
Hints & tips
- Get good beef. This is the most important part of the dish. The best beef will produce little fat and a great flavour.
- Try using goats cheese and milk for the béchamel sauce. Sainsbury's and Safeways both sell a goat's cheese that's almost like cheddar in consistency. Perfect for béchamel sauce.
- Look for canned tomatoes in 'rich tomato juice'. They're a bit more expensive, but definitely worthwhile
- Fresh basil and pepper are a must.
- Try it with minced lamb