Lasagne - Phase 1: Meat

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Creating the meat component of a lasagne is similar, but not quite the same, as creating a bolognese sauce. You could probably quite happily use it on top of pasta and nobody would be any the wiser, but - when I cook it at least - it has slightly different components, and different final consistency. Here's my method:

Here's the cast of characters: basil, marjoram and oregano (dried is fine), chilli powder, minced garlic (as always, use two cloves of minced fresh garlic if you want), a small jar of tomato paste, a jar of diced tomatoes, a jar of passata sauce (we'll only use about half), a brown onion, and hiding in the back there about a kilogram of mince.

Chop the onion in half and lop the top off. Peel back the skin and use your paring knife to slice it lengthways. No need to cut it too finely, just dice it up into squares.

Grab your chef's knife to finish the job.

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in your saucepan, and throw the onion in.

Add the herbs and the garlic.

Stir it all around until the herbs start to smell good.

Push the onion out to the edges of the pan, and throw the mince in to the hole you've made in the middle. This is to make sure that the mince hits the pan and cooks before the onions start to burn.

Stab the mince with the end of your spatula to break it all up.

Then stir it all around to brown.

Once the mince is cooked, throw in the jar of tomato paste.

And slurp in about half the bottle of passata.

What's the vegemite doing there? I know I didn't list it in the cast of characters, but that's because this is a secret ingredient. I don't tend to use salt in cooking, and Vegemite is a great way of enhancing the flavour of rich sauces like this. It's salty, but it also adds that beefy oomph that this type of sauce can really benefit from. But ssssshhhhh! Don't tell anyone!

Dig out a good teaspoonful of the stuff.

And stick the spoon like that straight into the simmering mixture.

Leave it a second, and then pull the spoon out again. Gone! Magic! Give it a good stir around.

Then pop the lid on (or, if your saucepan doesn't have a lid like mine, use some foil), and turn the heat way down low.

Leave it to simmer, and let's move on to Phase 2: Bechamel Sauce!


Valeri said...

Vegemite? that's a new one for me.. I think I have to tell people about it. :-)

Loquacity said...

Ssshhh! You can't tell people! It's a secret ingredient! :P


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