25 Aug 2016
Without doubt, one of our most popular grab-and-go meals is our traditional beef lasagne. No sooner do we pull it from the oven before it’s walking out the door. If you miss the boat, here are some in-house secrets to help you recreate a pretty darn good lasagne at home.
Lasagne recipes are as varied as they are numerous – every half decent home cook has a sure-fire formula and many cling to the romantic notion that theirs is the best.
Here at The Black Truffle however, we’re pretty sure (based on glowing customer testimonials) that ours is numero uno. Made the traditional Calabrian way it’s honest, hearty, healthy and best of all, sooooooo tasty.
Contrary to popular belief, southern Italians (or Calabrians) don’t use béchamel sauce in their lasagne relying instead on a cracking sauce and good quality cheese to give the dish its creaminess and rich flavour.
“Béchamel isn’t traditionally used (in Calabria),” explains Mimmi Zoiti, one of the head cooks in The Black Truffle kitchen.
“Sometimes my mother and mother-in-law would beat up two eggs and run them alongside the outside of the baking dish so the lasagne would stay together. We don’t tend to do that anymore – our lasagne stays together well without it. Also, a really traditional lasagne would be made with a layer of chopped up ham, peas and boiled egg on top of the sauce.”
We find that a simple recipe of a robust Bolognese and gooey mozzarella cheese works best, and although we make around 40 a week, our freshly baked traditional beef and chicken lasagnes fly off the shelves.
To avoid missing out (and to save having to dash back in-store), we suggest purchasing two when you can. Made from only fresh ingredients, our lasagne freezes brilliantly making it the perfect go-to on busy week nights.
If you do miss out, follow Mimmi’s top tips and recreate your own at home.
- Start with a solid foundation
Like all great cooking, a crowd-pleasing lasagne comes down to its base. Our traditional sauce is made following a generations-old family recipe. So while we won’t share all our secrets, you can buy tubs of our Bolognese from the grab-and-go meal section instore. The best part? The sauce is made from only fresh ingredients and freezes brilliantly if you’d like to save some for another day.
For those making sauce from scratch, Mimmi has this suggestion to share: brown off your onions and then your mince properly before adding your tomato.
- Don’t scrimp on the sauce
When people get lasagne wrong, Mimmi believes it’s often because they haven’t used enough sauce between the layers. “For an average-sized baking dish, you need to add at least two to three full ladles of sauce to each layer,” suggests Mimmi.
If you don’t do this, your pasta won’t have enough moisture to soften and cook evenly.
- Layer in order
When compiling your lasagne, make your first layer a couple of heaped ladles of Bolognese sauce. Top this with pasta – fresh or dried, it doesn’t really matter, then follow with another decent layer of sauce.
Sprinkle generously with a 50/50 mix of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese followed by another layer of pasta and continue in this order – sauce, cheese then pasta until you reach the top of your dish.
Finish with a final generous coating of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Moisture is a lasagne’s best friend
Before baking her lasagne in a moderate over for 40 to 50 minutes, Mimmi always covers it with baking paper and foil.
“You should cover your lasagne well before putting it in the oven so it doesn’t dry out,” she explains.
- Let it brown, baby!
Once the lasagne is cooked, remove the baking paper and foil and cook for an extra 20 minutes, or until the top is mottled with gorgeous, crispy browned cheese. To check if your lasagne is cooked through, Mimmi recommends pressing a fork into it. If it’s done, the fork will plunge effortlessly into the pasta. Underdone pasta will be tough and rubbery.