Lasagna Bolognese is nothing short of a masterclass in comfort food, layers of pasta, bechamel, Parmesan and classic ragu alla Bolognese.
Whilst it requires a bit of planning and time the perfect meaty lasagna is easy to make and all of the elements can be prepared separately and be put together later.
Pefectly Layered Meat Lasagna
Lasagna means many things to many people and folk love nothing better than to argue about food, but life is way too short for that as far as I am concerned.
There are many Italian Lasagna variations, some contain boiled egg and some are not even baked. That is before we consider all the other modern global variants.
My lasagna bolognese recipe is influenced by lasagne el forno from the Emilia-Romagna area of North Eastern Italy.
It is a delightfully simple affair of 4 very good things.
- Bechamel Sauce: No Ricotta for me, a simple bechamel mother sauce made from flour, milk and butter. Don’t worry, you’ve got this. It is esserntially the same process that I use in my parsely sauce.
- Slow cooker bolognese sauce: A classic slow-cooked meaty red wine ragu that I make from a mix of beef and pork.If you want to go vegetarian you can even use my lentil bolognese!
- Pasta: I typically use ready to use store bought pasta sheets, but this is also awesome with my rich duck egg pasta.
- Parmesan: No effort here folks just a bit of grating!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make the ragu in advance?
Absolutely, I rarely make this recipe in a single session! I usually make a much larger version of the ragu in the slow cooker, (see my video below). I have also added the recipe for my slow cooker version below the recipe for the lasagna Bolognese.
Can I make the bechamel sauce in advance?
In theory yes although I am not keen on doing this. When the bechamel sauce cools it forms a skin, you can reheat and stir this in but it always leads to some lumps in the sauce.
If you do make the sauce in advance, use some cling film and place it over the sauce.
It is important to ensure that there is no air between the cling film is in contact with the sauce. This reduces the amount of skin formed.
Can I make build the lasagna in advance?
Yes, it will be fine in the fridge for a day or two before baking in the oven. Cover the bowl with cling film and try and remove it from the fridge for around an hour before baking.
How do I stop my lasagna from spreading all over the plate?
There are a couple of ways to ensure that your lasagna stands up proud when you serve it.
The first is to let it cool a little before you serve it, don’t worry it stays hot for a long time, this is the same advice that I give in my beef cannelloni recipe.
The second is to ensure that you do not add too much meat or bechamel in the layering.
Can I save leftover lasagna Bolognese?
Yes, it is fine in the fridge for 3-4 days and will freeze reasonably well for 3 months. Defrost before reheating in a moderate oven, although you should be aware that it does dry out a little.
I tend to serve my lasagna bolognese with a pretty light leaf salad. Ingredients like frisee, rocket (arugula) and watercress add a lovely peppery background note.
If I am feeling particularly greedy then I will rustle up a quick and simple garlic bread.
If you want some veggies then consider adding some greens!
In spring I would add my air fryer garlic asparagus.
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- 28cm or 11″ frying pan.
- 16-17cm or 6-7″ saucepan.
- 22cm by 15cm by 6cm deep, 10″ x 6″ x 2.5″ baking or casserole dish.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
A traditional lasagna bolognese is nothing short of a masterclass in comfort food, pasta, bechamel, Parmesan and a trad bolognese ragu layered and baked to perfection.
For the Ragu alla Bolognese:
- 300g (10oz) Minced Beef
- 200g (7oz) Minced Pork
- 150g (5oz) Smoked Streaky Bacon
- 50g (⅓ Cup) Onion
- 50g (⅓ Cup) Carrot
- 50g (⅓ Cup) Celery
- 25g (1 Tbsp + 2 Tsp) Butter
- 125ml (½ Cup) Red Wine
- 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
- ½ Tsp Salt
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 75ml (⅓ Cup) Full Fat Milk
For the Bechamel Sauce:
- 500ml (2 Cups) Whole Milk
- 50g (¼ Cup + 1 Tsp) Plain Flour
- 50g (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Butter
- 1 (100g) Medium Onion
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 12 Black Pepper Corns
- ¼ Tsp Salt
To build the Lasagna:
- 12 Lasagne Sheets
- 125g (1¼ Cups) Parmesan Cheese
For the Ragu all Bolognese (Make this ahead of time and cool):
- Cut the celery and carrot into a 3mm dice.
- Peel the onion and chop it into a dice the same size as the carrot and celery.
- Cut the bacon into a 7-10mm dice.
- Heat a 28cm or 11" frying pan (not non-stick) over medium a high heat, when it is hot add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the butter and when it begins to foam add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Do not colour the vegetables.
- Add the beef to the pork mix and cook until it starts to caramelise, stirring occasionally. This will take around 10-12 minutes.
- Turn the heat up and add the minced pork and beef and cook until well-browned stirring occasionally, this will take 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in the add the tomato puree and red wine.
- Cook for 5 minutes before adding a lid, then reduce the heat to low and cook on for 90 minutes.
- Remove the lid and stir in the milk, return the lid and cook for another 30 minutes.
For the Bechamel Sauce:
- Peel the onion and cut it in half.
- Place the onion in a medium (16-17cm or 6-7") saucepan and add the pepper and bay leaf.
- Slowly heat the milk for 10 minutes but ensure that you do not boil it hard.
- Melt the butter over a medium-low heat and when melted stir in flour.
- Cook out the flour and butter mix for 3 minutes stirring continuously, if the mix starts to brown reduce the heat, we want a white sauce, not a golden one.
- Add a little (50ml or around 3 tablspoons) of the hot milk into the pan with the butter and flour and mix until the milk is combined.
- Repeat this process until all of the milk is incorporated and you have a rich and thick Bechamel Sauce that is lump-free.
- Add the salt to taste and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
To build the Lasagna:
- Cut your lasagna sheets to the same size as your bowl. I use one that is 22cm by 15cm by 6cm deep, 10" x 6" x 2.5" for those who work in imperial.
- Add a little of the bechamel sauce to the bottom of the baking dish followed by a little of the ragu.
- I use 55g of white sauce, 75g of ragu per layer and 10g of Parmesan cheese per layer.
- Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and then add a layer of pasta.
- Repeat this process 5 or 6 times.
- Top the final layer with the remaining bechamel sauce and Parmesan cheese, there should be more leftover of these than you used in each layer.
- Place it in the oven and bake at 180°C or 350°F for 45 minutes.
- Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
You will have some left over bolognese sauce from this recipe, it is very difficult to make a small batch. Freeze it iand eat it later with pasta, in a toastie or on a baked potato!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1080Total Fat: 145gSaturated Fat: 70gTrans Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 59gCholesterol: 671mgCarbohydrates: 141gFiber: 16gSugar: 45gProtein: 178g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.