Lasagne – Sam Stern’s Cooking up a Storm

We have a couple of Sam Stern books that were bought a couple of years ago to encourage Aidan to cook, I think Cooking Up A Storm – The Teen Survival Cookbook
was probably the first Sam Stern cookbook I’d bought. Aidan cooked a few recipes early on but hasn’t cooked much lately, I suggested he might like to cook Lasagne for dinner on  Sunday. I got him to make the Bolognese sauce with him as main cook and me as sous chef following his instructions chopping onions etc, then I made the white sauce whilst he did some homework before he came back to assemble the dish. He enjoyed assembling the lasagne and with teens/children it is definitely worth splitting out the tasks so they don’t feel the dish has taken hrs to prepare.

So the good points about Sam’s recipe is it is quite teenage friendly, you make up the bolognese sauce all in one pan, white sauce in another and then the lasagne dish so manages to minimise the washing up as much as possible for the dish. The instructions are simple as well. I didn’t like having to go back and forth for the 3 different recipes (although white sauce is simple and only really needed his recipe for quantities`).

By leaving the fat from the mince in the meat sauce it had a higher fat content than I’m used to but also made it quite a rich sauce. He includes a pinch of sugar which we put in but can’t see the point. If anyone else knows why please say. Annoyingly he doesn’t give any indication of how much herbs & spices to use. Not a problem for me but the book is aimed at new cooks. The lasagne seemed just a little bland but I suppose lasagne is. The quantity of white sauce was perfect for the dish I used, a little too much meat sauce but with the addition of chilli sauce it made dinner today for two and there was enough leftover lasagne for two.

Bolognese

  • 25g Butter
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 900g minced beef
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsps tomato puree
  • good pinch sugar
  • Fresh thyme, oregano or basil chopped
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • a little water or stock
  • lemon juice
  1. Melt the butter together with a slug of olive oil (Sam doesn’t mention how much oil) in a large saucepan. Add the onion and and garlic and cook gently for 5 mins until soft and translucent. Add the carrot and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mince and brown it (stirring). Increase the heat and add tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, herbs, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir. Add water or stock if the sauce seems too dry (we didn’t need to add any).
  3. Reduce the heat, cover pan and simmer for at least 30mins.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.

White Sauce

  • 1pt milk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g butter

Usual instructions for making white sauce.

Lasagne

  • 1 quantity Bolognese sauce
  • 1 quantity white sauce
  • 75g grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp english mustard
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • 250g pack no pre-cook lasagne
  • 4-6 tbsps grated parmesan cheese
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese (for the top)
  1. Prepare Bolognese sauce
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
  3. Make white sauce and stir in grated cheese, mustard and lemon juice
  4. Spread 1/3 meat sauce in bottom of lasagne dish. Add a single layer of pasta. Cover with a thin layer white sauce. Sprinkle with a little parmesan.
  5. Repeat meat sauce, white sauce, parmesan and pasta layers twice more
  6. Top with grated parmesan and bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Lasagne can rest for 10mins before serving
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