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Making the Best Lasagne - Craig Cook The Natural Butcher

Making the Best Lasagne

There is no denying that lasagne takes a little time to make, the good news is you can make both sauce components up to two days ahead of time, then just assemble and bake your lasagne on the day of serving.


  • 600 g beef mince
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 stick celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 700 g bottle tomato passata
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tsp dried oregano or basil

White sauce

  • 60 g butter
  • ⅓ cup plain flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • small pinch nutmeg

To assemble

  • 6 sheet fresh lasagne sheets (or 9 dried)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30 g soft butter
  • extra grated Parmesan



  1. To make the meat sauce; Heat a large, deep-sided frypan, ensure it is hot. Crumble in half of the mince. Cook the mince, breaking up any lumps with a fork. Let the liquid evaporate (see page 3). Remove the first batch, reheat pan and cook remaining mince and then remove.
  2. Add oil, onion, carrot and celery to frypan, cook over a medium to low heat until onion is just soft. Return the mince to the frypan, add the wine, and cook until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add the tomato passata, water, herbs and season with salt, pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, partly cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Add a little water to sauce if needed as it cooks.
  3. To make the white sauce; heat the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add flour and stir to combine, cook for 30 seconds. Add the milk gradually, stir until smooth. Add nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Stir constantly until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.
  4. To assemble lasagne; Preheat oven to moderate 180ºC. Use a deep, rectangular ovenproof dish (we used one 31 x 23cm). Add a couple of tbsp of meat sauce to the base of the dish, spread it out. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, top with some meat sauce, add a couple of tbsp of white sauce and spread it out over the meat. Continue in this way finishing with the white sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and a few tsp of butter. Bake covered for 20 minutes, and then uncovered for a further 20 minutes, or until thoroughly hot. Remove from oven and stand for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the extra Parmesan to serve.


Essential Tips

  • Make the lasagne ahead of time. You can make both sauce components ahead of time (up to 2 days in advance, or even longer if you freeze the meat sauce) and assemble and bake your lasagne on the day of serving. When you’re ready to assemble it preheat the oven and warm both sauces (just so they are warm to touch).
  • Buying and storing mince
  • Refer to use-by-dates on packaged mince and use well within that time. Loose mince purchased from the butcher is best used within 1 to 2 days of buying it.
  • Mince can be frozen for 2-3 months
  • Lay it out flat to freeze, it will then defrost evenly and quickly.
  • Thaw frozen mince in the fridge, or in the microwave
  • Thaw it on the lowest shelf in the fridge, below and or away from any ready to eat food. If you thaw mince in the microwave it must be cooked right away.
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