Tag Archives: lasagne

Vincisgrassi with Chicken Livers, Parma Ham and Porcini Mushrooms

Gutsy and gorgeous this lasagne, it feels like the type of comforting and tasty dish that you should come home to after a hard day’s labour. It’s rich and creamy but not sickly and the mushrooms and chicken livers combined with the parma ham ensure it has real depth of flavour. Lovely and so different from my usual, favourite traditional lasagne. This one will be punctuating the winter menus regularly from now on.

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x baking dish (mine is 26 x 18 x 7cms deep) lightly buttered

50g dried porcini mushrooms

250ml boiling water from the kettle

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

150g parma ham slices

6 sheets fresh lasagne

30g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

450g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced

400g chicken livers, trimmed and coarsely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

for the sauce

1 small onion, peeled and halved

8 cloves

1 litre milk

6 fresh bay leaves, crumpled

2 large thyme sprigs

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

75g butter

65g plain flour

150g cheddar, grated

¼ nutmeg, grated

What to do…

For the sauce, tip into a medium saucepan the onion, cloves, milk, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

Make your stock by pouring the boiling water into a jug, dropping in the stockpot and dissolving it using a balloon whisk.

Put the porcini mushrooms into a small bowl and pour over the stock. Pop a saucer over the top to keep the mushrooms submerged. Set aside.

Cut the parma ham slices in half lengthways, stack them up, then cut them across in thin slivers. Set aside.

Drain the porcini, reserving the stock, then squeeze out any excess liquid.

Heat the 30g butter and olive oil in frying pan, add the porcini and fry gently for 2 minutes. Add the chestnut mushrooms, increase the heat to high and fry for 3 minutes. Add the reserved stock and cook until the liquid has almost disappeared. Chuck in the chicken livers and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring. Tip in the parma ham, separating the slices as you go, and stir until well mixed. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper – go easy on the salt – the parma ham has a lot in it.

Whilst you are doing that stuff in the frying pan, you need also to be making the sauce. Strain the milk, discarding the onion, cloves, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. Then bring it back to the boil. Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the ring so that it continues to stay warm.

Melt the 75g butter into a medium pan, tip in the flour and cook gently for 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from the heat and gradually pour in the milk, stirring the whole time. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently over a very low heat for 10 minutes or until it thickens.

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in half the grated cheddar and the nutmeg. Season, taste, adjust if necessary.

Line the base of your baking dish with 2 sheets of lasagne. Spoon over a third of the chicken liver mixture, then a third of the sauce. Repeat this process –lasagne, mixture, sauce – two further times. Sprinkle over the remaining cheddar and pop your vincisgrassi into the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until golden and bubbling. Enjoy the fabulous aroma that drifts from the oven as you clear up your pots and pans.

To serve, I think this is best plonked into the middle of the table with a large spoon and everyone involved asked to help themselves. Pour yourself (and them) a large glass of full-bodied red and enjoy. It’s a meal that could be served with salad but definitely requires relaxed, convivial conversation….and more red…

If you’re lucky enough to have a Thermomix…

To make the sauce, just stick all the ingredients except the cheddar into the bowl and cook for 7 minutes at 90° on speed 4. Tip in half your cheese and set it to stirring at a low speed for about 2 minutes. Leave the sauce in the bowl until you’re ready to assemble.

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine

How easy…

Easy but quite long haul with quite a bit of washing up. But you know what, it was worth it!

Lovely, Comforting Lasagne

Sooooo lovely and comforting, both to make and to eat – this is such a lovely family supper dish

Serves 6

What you need…

Ovenproof dish (mine is 20cm x 30cm)

Splash of olive oil

1 kg minced beef

500g minced lamb

150g mozzarella, torn up

A handful of fresh sage leaves

Lasagne sheets, fresh or dried (enough to cover your ovenproof dish three times)

for the tomato sauce

Splash of olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 bay leaves

2 x 400g tins of chopped Italian tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato puree

for the white sauce

1 litre milk

Pinch nutmeg

½ onion, peeled and sliced

Small handful black peppercorns

80g butter

60g plain flour, sieved

120g – 150g grated fresh Parmesan

Sea salt & black pepper

What to do…

Heat a large, deep frying pan with a splash of olive oil. Slowly fry the garlic until lightly coloured, then add the rosemary, bay leaves, tomatoes and tomato puree. Cook gently for 45 minutes with the lid on.

Add the meat to your tomato mixture and simmer for 20 minutes, creating a tomato and meat ragu.

Meanwhile, put the milk, nutmeg, onion and black peppercorns into a medium sized saucepan and bring gently to the boil. Melt the butter in a third saucepan (large) and tip in the flour. Mix well to form the beginning of a roux sauce (it will look like a glossy ball). Gradually add the flavoured milk – one ladle at a time and through a sieve (you don’t want all the peppercorns and onions in there), stirring it well until you have a thick, smooth white sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat and add Parmesan and seasoning.

Remove the rosemary and bay leaves from the tomato and meat ragu.

Preheat the oven to 180c / 350 f / gas 4 and butter a large baking dish.

Cover the bottom of the dish with lasagne sheets. Then cover with a thin layer of your ragu. Then cover with a thin layer of the white sauce. Repeat with a further two sets of layers – pasta, ragu and white sauce – ending with white sauce. Scatter over the torn mozzarella and sage leaves.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and let your lovely, comforting lasagne settle for maybe 10 minutes. Serve with a fabulous, robust bottle of Italian wine.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

It is easy but does take time: you need to be in the right mood. Choose your music, open a nice bottle of red and enjoy the process. The cooking smells are wonderful and definitely contribute to the enjoyment of this dish. There are however loads of pans to wash up but….it’s worth it! I wash them whilst the lasagne is in the oven so that when I sit down, I’m totally relaxed.