Little is more satisfying than cooking a classic to perfection. It's also ideal to do a big batch, pack and carry. The best is that people at work, tend to love lasagna!
How to do it
For the meat sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot (about 100g/4oz) finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
140g pack cubetti di pancetta
500g pack beef mince (we used 10% fat)
500g pack pork mince or British veal mince
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 rosemary sprig
2 thyme sprigs
2 tsp dried oregano
2 beef stock cubes
500ml red wine
For the lasagne
about 400g dried pasta sheets
50g parmesan, finely grated
For the white sauce (béchamel)
1½ l milk
1 onion, thickly sliced
3 bay leaves
100g plain flour good grating of nutmeg
First infuse the milk to make the béchamel sauce. Put the 1 ½ litres milk, 1 thickly sliced onion, 3 bay leaves and 3 cloves into a large saucepan and bring very gently just up to the boil. Turn off the heat and set aside for 1 hr to infuse.
For the meat sauce, put the 3 tbsp oil, 2 finely chopped celery sticks, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 finely chopped carrot, 3 crushed garlic cloves and 140g cubed pancetta in another large saucepan. Gently cook together until the veg are soft but not coloured.
Tip in 500g pork mince and 500g beef mince, 200ml milk and 2 cans of chopped tomatoes. Using a wooden spoon, stir together and break up and mash the lumps of mince against the sides of the pan.
When the mince is mostly broken down, stir in 2 bay leaves, 1 rosemary sprig, 2 thyme sprigs, 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 beef stock cubes and 500ml red wine, and bring to a simmer.
Cover and cook for 1 hr, stirring occasionally to stop the bottom catching.
Uncover and gently simmer for another 30 mins-1 hr until the meat is tender and saucy. Taste and season.
To finish the béchamel sauce, strain the milk through a fine sieve into one or two jugs.
Melt 100g butter in the same pan then, using a wooden spoon, mix in 100g plain flour and cook for 2 mins.
Stir in the strained milk, a little at a time – the mix will thicken at first to a doughy paste, but keep going, adding milk gradually to avoid lumps.
When all the milk is in, bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly (if you have lumps, give it a quick whisk). Gently bubble for a few mins until thickened.
Season with salt, pepper and a good grating of nutmeg.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Spread a spoonful of the meat sauce over the base of a roughly 3.5 litre baking dish.
Cover with a single layer of dried pasta sheets, snapping them to fit if needed, then top with a quarter of the béchamel. Spoon over a third of the meat sauce and scatter over a little of the finely grated parmesan.
Repeat the layers – pasta, béchamel, meat and parmesan – two more times to use all the meat sauce. Add a final layer of pasta, the last of the béchamel and remaining parmesan.
Sit the dish on a baking tray to catch spills and bake for 1 hr until bubbling, browned and crisp on top.