I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Lasagne. The classic version – at least what we Brits consider to be classic – with alternating layers of beef ragù and bechamel sauce is my ultimate comfort food. Baked pasta dishes are also remarkably flexible and there’s not much you can’t sandwich between two sheets of lasgane.
I’ve already posted recipes for my Chicken, Pesto and Butternut Lasage and Spinch, Chard and Courgette Lasagne, for example. Even my Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo is a riff on the basic lasagne principle. They’re all lovely recipes and each of them provides a great way of feeding a large group of people, without too much effort. I suspect they’re also all good value recipes too – mass catering often is.
That thought leads me nicely onto this recipe for Steak & Mushroom Open Lasagne. As much as I love lasagne it has almost only ever been something I make for groups of people. Mostly because I love the theatre of a big, bubbling dish of golden pasta being brought to the table. It’s not something I’ve ever been good at making on a small scale. When you consider that normally I cook for just the two of us that means there are going to be a lot of leftovers. When it comes to lasagne I can’t be trusted near leftovers…
Leftovers never stick around for long in our fridge. Every time the door is opened I’ll inevitably cut myself off a little slice to tide me over. Yep – even when it’s fridge cold I can’t help myself. By the time I’m done there’s seldom enough left to take into work for lunch the next day. Knowing that I am a natural grazer, who’s has his fair share of weight issues in the past, I can’t afford to expose myself to these risks!
The simplest way to avoid that “leftovers trap” is to make individual portions in place of a big batch. If you get the amount of food right at the outset then there won’t be any leftovers to worry about. In the case of lasagne I think the only way to do that is (if you’ll excuse the horrific term that’s about to come your way) to deconstruct it. This also allows you to make a lighter dish overall, without sacrificing any flavours whatsoever.
My Steak & Mushroom Open Lasagne has two fillings. A rich beef ragù, made with big chunks of stewing steak, and a creamy garlic mushroom sauce. These are sandwiched between sheets of fresh egg pasta, drizzled with a little bit of extra virgin oil and topped with parmesan shavings. A handful of salad leaves and some balsamic dressing finish the dish.
If you’re sensible you’ll dive straight into the middle when eating this. Doing so ensures you get a bit of each flavour in every mouthful – much like a more traditional lasagne. There’s enough sauce here to ensure that the pasta never gets dry, you just need to mix things up yourself. Take it from me, there’s no shame in making a bit of a mess now and then…
Steak & Mushroom Open Lasagne
For the Beef Ragu
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 1 tbsp Flour
- Pinch Sea Salt
- Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 400 g Lean Stewing Steak cut into bite-sized cubes
- 2 rashers Bacon finely chopped
- 1 medium Onion peeled and finely chopped
- ½ Carrot peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stick Celery finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Tomato Purée
- 250 ml Beef Stock
For the Mushroom Sauce
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 300 g Mushrooms see Note
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2 tbsp Brandy
- 2 tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
- 5 tbsp Crème Fraîche
- 1 tbsp Parmesan grated
- Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the Lasagne
- 6 sheets Fresh Lasagne
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salad Leaves
- Parmesan Shavings
- Balsamic Dressing optional
Make the Beef Ragù
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole pan over a high heat.
- Season the flour with the sea salt and black pepper. Dust the beef with the seasoned flour and shake off any excess.
- Fry the steak in the pan until browned and sealed on all sides. When browned remove from the pan and put to one side. You may need to do this in a few batches to ensure it browns rather than steams.
- When the meat has all been browned loosed any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the remaining oil and bacon. Fry for a few minutes until the bacon is cooked through and slightly crisp. Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and keep to one side with the beef.
- Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pan, then stir to coat with the flavoured oil. Reduce the heat then sauté for for 15-20 minutes until tender. Stirring occasionally to avoid things burning.
- Return the browned steak and bacon to the pan, along with the tomato purée, then stir through the vegetable mixture. Pour in the beef and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat and allow to gently simmer for 2 hours until the beef is tender and the sauce thickened.
- At this stage you can either continue with the following steps, keeping the sauce warm until needed. Or you can do the same as me – allow the ragu to cool and rest in the fridge overnight. I think this helps develop the flavour and also means you can prepare this slower stage in advance. Just reheat it thoroughly when needed.
Make the Mushroom Sauce
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms, then sauté for 10 minutes until softened. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
- Turn the heat up slightly and add the garlic. Stir fry for a minute or so until fragrant, then pour in the brandy and reduce to a thick sauce. Return the mushrooms to the pan along with any juices, then sprinkle in the thyme leaves. Add the crème fraîche and stir until everything is well mixed. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until thickened.
- Sprinkle in the grated parmesan and season to taste just before using.
Cook the Pasta
- Bring a large pan of water to a boil.
- Cut the pasta sheets in half to give 12 pieces overall. Lower them one at a time into the water, bring back to the boil and cook until the pasta is al dente. This will take between 2 and 4 minutes depending on your pasta.
- When cooked, drain off the pasta water and cover to keep warm
Plate the dish
- Drizzle a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on each plate.
- Place one sheet of pasta in the centre of each plate, making sure it’s a bit folded and wrinkled, rather than flat.
- Spoon a quarter of the beef ragù onto each plate, spreading it to the edges but leaving some pasta exposed. Top with a second sheet of pasta, again making sure the pasta doesn’t sit perfectly flat; you want a bit of texture.
- Repeat with the mushroom sauce and top with a final sheet of pasta.
- Top with a handful of mixed salad leaves, then dress with some balsamic dressing or a little more extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with some parmesan shavings and serve immediately.
|Estimated Values per Serving|
|of which Saturates||13||g|
|of which Sugars||7||g|
|Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.|