A Continuation of Our Offensive Tour of Italy
Bolognese is a hard thing to get rid of. Which is to say, it’s really easy to feed to people, and they’ll probably eat it without having to discretely tip it out into a plant pot or forever terminate their friendship with you, but there’s always some spare. What to do with it, though, long after all your guests have left and eating an entire bowl of spare sauce to yourself seems wildly indulgent at best and painfully rich at worst?
Some Sort of Lasagne
Serves 2, probably
What you will need
A dish to bake it in – It can be any size or shape, really, but rectangular is best for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. I’m listing it at the head of this section despite it being not an ingredient because I’m about to make reference to it two paragraphs down. Besides, this isn’t called the ingredients section, smartarse, it’s called the what you will need section.
Your leftover bolognese – Depending on how much you have left it might or might not be worth bothering with this, to be honest. If there’s not that much either warm it up and have bolognese two nights in a row, or freeze it until there’s loads. If you left it sitting in the pan overnight before you thought to bung it in the freezer or something, refresh it with a bit of red wine1.
Some stuff to bulk it out (optional) – If you’ve loads of bolognese left, you won’t need stuff to bulk it out. Pour the bolognese into the dish to find out2. You want the sauce to be deeper than your middle thumb knuckle at the least. If not, you want some stuff to bulk it out with. Good some stuff to bulk it out with might include:
- Mushrooms. Slice and sauté[^3] them.
- Asparagus. Griddle them in sort of bits that are approximately the same size as you might imagine a serving of lasagne to be. That way, when you serve it all up it will look neat, as though you planned it that way.
- Baby corn, maybe? Griddle it in butter and it’ll probably do the job.
- Other veg or something, I don’t know.
If you’re using some stuff to bulk it out with, you should mix the some stuff to bulk it out with into the sauce, unless you’re using long bits of some stuff to bulk it out with, in which case you should lay them delicately atop the sauce, like an artist.
Some sheets of lasagne – Ideally, you’d want one sheet of lasagne the exact dimensions of your dish. The only way that would happen is if you made your own pasta, and if you make your own pasta, why the hell are you reading this?
A good bit of butter – Call it 75g, give or take.
Flour – A couple of tablespoons’ worth, ish.
Three decent handfuls of grated hard cheese – Obviously this being a traditional Italian dish savoured throughout the generations, the best cheese to use is cheap pre-grated Cheddar from Lidl3. Any cheese will do, really. In the photos it’s mostly the Lidl Cheddar and also bits of a mini Babybel.
About half a pint of milk
Cooking time: Ten minutes’ faff, an episode of the Simpsons’ cooking time.
If you haven’t already, spread the sauce around in the bottom of your dish and add your some stuff to bulk it out with. Cover with a layer of the lasagne sheets, without making them overlap but also while still covering as much of the surface area of the sauce as you can. This will involve snapping off bits of the sheets, probably, then dropping them back into the box or throwing them away because they’re so tiny, then realising you could use them to fill out this next bit, scrabbling to get them out of the bottom of the box, because have you tried getting shards of lasagne out of the bottom of the box without spilling stuff everywhere?
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 360 degrees Fahrenheit (who uses Fahrenheit?)
Put the butter in a saucepan and melt it over a medium-high heat. When completely melted, throw in a couple of spoonfuls of flour. Mix intently, till it looks like the above picture.
Faff around with your phone trying to get a decent picture for so long that the roux4 starts to burn (optional).
Pour in the milk, a little at a time, and whisk the crap out of it. At some point, you’ll know when, it will reach optimum thickness5. Take it off the heat and season.
Add about two-thirds of the cheese, and mix well. Pour the cheesy goo all over the lasagne sheets, ensuring as even a coverage as you can.
Scatter the rest of the cheese all over the top. Technically the aim of this bit is to provide a slightly toasty texture to the top of the lasagne, but the real reason is that you can add extra coverage to any areas where the cheese sauce isn’t quite covering the bits of lasagne. Cheese covers a multitude of sins.
Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until the top is golden and cripsy. I think you’re supposed to serve it with a salad or something on the side, but I just eat it on its own, maybe with a pork chop.
If I catch anyone eating lasagne with chips there’ll be trouble, though.
- I invented the term. It means “pour a glug of wine in with the sauce and then heat it all up a bit”. I have no idea what, if anything, it does, but it seems to make the sauce more saucerer. ↩
- See? That’s why. You try constructing a logically parseable list of ingredients without referencing the dish, if you think it’s that easy. ↩
- Real talk time. Pre-grated cheese versus cheese in a big block. Price considerations aside (that auto-grater machine they have at the cheese factory is clearly more expensive to run than you’d think), the real decider in the pre-grated / block decision is how long it’ll be in the fridge. It’s basic maths. There’s not as much surface area in a block of cheese, so if a bit of mould gets to it you can cut off the offending section, or even the entire surface of the cheese and still have functional cheese left underneath. A bag of grated cheese, though, is pretty much all surface area. Once mould gets to any of that, you’ve just got a big bag of green gross. ↩
- French for flour-and-butter-mix-stuff. ↩
- Basically, it’s when the amount of effort put into the last measurable gain in sauce thickness is more than double than the amount of effort put into the previous measurable gain in sauce thickness. ↩