Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Friday Night Plan #4

The Friday Night Plan #4

I can’t seem to help myself with Italian food. It's so hearty, warming and easy to make. This week we have a lasagne full of meaty, tomatoey flavour. The film is the second in the series following from last week's Rear Window. Enjoy.

The Food



For the Ragu:

8 rashers of streaky, smoked bacon chopped into little lardons,

1 onion diced,

2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped,

500g beef mince,

A few sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped,

A good sprinkling of dried oregano,



About a glass of red wine,

A good dash of Worcestershire sauce,

2 heaped tbsps of tomato puree,

A tin of chopped tomatoes,

1 large carrot, diced,

4 stalks of celery, diced

For the white sauce:

1 onion, chopped in half,

6 peppercorns,

2 bay leaves,

A pint of milk,

40g of butter,

Enough flour to make a roux,


Dried lasagne sheets,



Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Make the ragu first:

Fry the bacon until a little crispy and put in a large bowl. Brown the beef in the same pan and put in the bowl with the bacon. Add a little olive oil to the pan and add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery.

Soften the vegetables for 5-10 minutes over a medium heat. Return the meat and bacon to the pan with the rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, wine, tomato puree, Worcester sauce and tomatoes. Stir well and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn down the heat to a simmer and leave to mature for about an hour.

Meanwhile make the white sauce:

Put the onion, peppercorns, bay leaves and milk in a medium saucepan over a high heat. Keep an eye on it. Just before it boils over, turn out the heat. Leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes.

Pour the infused milk through a sieve into a jug. Discard the onion, peppercorns and bay leaves. Melt the butter in the pan. Add flour little by little until you have made a roux with the consistency of cookie dough. Now add milk little by little incorporating everything before adding more. Do this until your sauce is the right consistency. You may need a little more fresh milk. Simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes to cook the flour. If necessary add a little more milk to thin it out. Finish with some grated nutmeg.

Assemble your lasagne in a large ceramic baking dish, layered as follows: a layer of meat, a layer of lasagne, a layer of sauce. Do this three times. Finish with plenty of grated parmesan. Put it in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until brown on top and bubbling. Serve with garlic bread or just a simple salad of watercress, rocket and cherry tomatoes.

The Wines

Budget Option:

Porcupine Ridge Merlot - £6.99 when you buy two or more South African bottles. Red fruit matches the rich tomatoey ragu, oak ageing will add light creaminess to complement the sauce, and smooth tannins go with the meat, Bingo!

Fine Wine Option:

Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Tommaso Bussola - £22. I had to pick an Italian for Lasagne and this is a great example, Tommaso Bussola ensures fantastic quality by hand sorting his grapes and ageing the wine in new oak. Delicious and intense cherry fruit will work with the tomatoey ragu, while the salty cheese will compliment the smooth, soft tannins. This is full-bodied enough to stand up to the meatiness of this dish, I think it will work brilliantly.

The Film

This week we have the next in our Rear Window series. This film is definitely inspired by Rear Window, so much so that Hitchcock’s family have sued the creators for a large sum of money. Directed by D.J. Caruso, the film is called Disturbia. The title puts a lot of people off, but it’s much more than the teen horror it appears at first to be. The premise is that a teenage boy is put under house arrest after punching his teacher. Stuck in his bedroom, the boy becomes bored and turns to spying on his neighbours for entertainment. Again that’s all I’ll tell you, but I really hope you like it. Watch this space for the next film in the series.

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