In light of the latest horse meat news, we wanted to take this opportunity to urge you all to cook your own food at home. There is never really a time or a place for ready meals in our opinion – you can whip up a quick pasta dish in the same length of time it takes to pop a ready meal in the microwave.
By cooking your own food, you are controlling exactly what goes into it. You know where your meat and vegetables are from, you know how much salt you have used (latest guidelines say we should not be having no more than 6g daily – about a teaspoon) and you know there is no illegal horse meat in there – provided you have a butcher you can trust!
But more importantly, the more you cook, the more confident you will become and the more satisfaction you will get out of it. Remember, you are cooking for friends and family, not Jay Rayner! Don’t be afraid to give things a go…
As this is so topical right now, here’s our take on a classic lasagne. Might not be quick, but there sure ain’t no horse meat in there!
For the ragu:
100g cubed pancetta
400g beef mince
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 carrot, cubed
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
400g chopped tomatoes
40g dark chocolate
1 glass red wine
For the white sauce:
30g plain flour
300ml whole milk
50g cheddar cheese
300g fresh pasta sheets (you can use dried, but it might not be as soft)
Preheat the oven to 200c.
For the ragu:
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat and add the pancetta, fry gently for 5 minutes.
- Add the onion, thyme and bay leaf and fry for a further 5 minutes, add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Put this mixture into a bowl and set to one side.
- Put the pan back on a high heat heat, add some oil and the beef mince, using a wooden spoon to break it up. Season with salt and brown for 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat back to medium, add the onion and garlic mixture, pour in the wine and reduce.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and chocolate and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Season to taste.
For the cheese sauce:
- Combine the butter and flour together over a medium heat, stirring the paste well for a couple of minutes.
- While stirring, pour in some of the milk a bit at a time, stirring constantly.
- Add the rest of the milk, whisking as you go and allow the flour to cook out for about 5 minutes – careful it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
- Add half the parmesan, half the cheddar cheese and some pepper (you may not need salt), stir and set to one side off the heat.
- Pour a half of the ragu onto the bottom of your baking tray/dish.
- Place a thin layer of pasta over the top.
- Pour half of the cheese sauce on top.
- Add the rest of the ragu followed by another layer of pasta.
- Top with the remaining white sauce and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
- Place in the hot oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbling at the edges.
Serve with a fresh salad and enjoy!