“This is one of my trademark dishes and it’s super easy and delicious. It’s more dirty than your average lasagne, because I load up with cheese and never skimp on the sauce. It’s a rich, tasty dish that is there to be enjoyed. Have it with a glass of red and a piece of focaccia to mop up the extra sauce,” says Isaac Carew.
1 onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
olive oil, for frying
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
400g beef mince
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 bunch of basil, leaves only
400g egg lasagne sheets
For the cheese sauce:
25g plain flour
250ml whole milk
170ml double cream
50g Cheddar cheese, plus extra for the top
Sea salt and white pepper
Dice the onion and celery sticks. Add to a large saucepan with a glug of olive oil and sweat for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add the bay leaves and mince and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the oregano and passata or sauce and cook for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce.
Meanwhile, start the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour. Cook for 1–2 minutes, taking care not to burn. Mix the milk and double cream together in another saucepan and bring up to the boil. Slowly whisk the liquid into the saucepan with the flour mixture. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens, then grate in the Cheddar cheese. Season with salt and white pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (fan 180℃/gas mark 6). Spread a couple of tablespoons of the beef sauce in a medium ovenproof dish and tear over a few basil leaves. Layer the pasta sheets over the mince and cover in a small layer of cheese sauce, then mince, then another layer of pasta, basil and cheese sauce. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the beef sauce.
Finish with a layer of the cheese sauce. Dot with ricotta and a small grating of Cheddar cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve.
Extract from The Dirty Dishes: 100 fast and delicious recipes by Isaac Carew. (Bluebird, £20) Photography by Susan Bell. Out now.