Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
For the ragù:
3 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion (about 250g/9oz), peeled and finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated
3 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely diced
1 leek, trimmed and finely diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg (2lb 3oz) minced beef or pork, or 500g (1lb 2oz) minced beef and 500g (1lb 2oz) minced pork
1 bay leaf
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes, or 800g (13/4lb) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tblsp tomato purée
200 ml (7fl oz) white or red wine
2–3 tbsp sugar
12–16 sheets of fresh or precooked dried lasagne
100 g (31/2oz) cheddar cheese, grated
50 g (2oz) parmesan cheese, grated
For the cheese sauce:
70 g (21/2oz) butter
70 g (21/2oz) plain flour
1 l (13/4 pints) milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
200 g (7oz) cheddar cheese, grated
20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4.
First make the ragù. Place a large casserole dish or saucepan on a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, tip in the onion, garlic, celery and leek. Season with salt and pepper and cook, uncovered, for 8–10 minutes, stirring every so often, until the vegetables have softened. Turn the heat up to high, add the meat and stir to break up the mince, cooking until no traces of pink remain.
Add the bay leaf with the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, wine and sugar, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour, uncovered and stir regularly. When cooked, the sauce will have thickened and the tomatoes softened completely. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
For the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat, then whisk in the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Gradually pour in the milk and bring to the boil, whisking continuously until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese and mustard, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
Place a thin layer of ragù in the bottom of the ovenproof dish, cover with a layer of the cheese sauce, then add lasagne sheets to cover the sauce, in a single layer. Repeat this process, finishing with a layer of pasta topped with cheese sauce only.
Sprinkle over both cheeses, then bake in the oven for 45–50 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling hot. Serve with a green salad if you wish.