Ultimate Meat Lasagna Recipe

I don’t think anyone dislikes lasagna. A good classic meat lasagna is no doubt one of the ultimate comfort foods to many, including myself and my family. The secret to a good lasagna lies with a rich umami meat ragu and a luscious white sauce with lots of cheese to create that gooey texture.

I know there are tons of other lasagna recipes out there but my recipe here has something more special to offer. It’s a tweak from the traditional ingredients, spiked with a tingle of spice, and featuring extra rich umami flavours.

How to Make the Ultimate Meat Lasagna

There are three parts to making a lasagna: (1) Making the Ragu, (2) Making the Bechamel Sauce, and (3) Assembling and Baking the Lasagna.

Classic Meat Lasagna

Making the Meat Ragu

I like to use a mix of both lamb and beef mince when making the ragu. It’s entirely up to you and your own preference.

Start with making a soffrito, which is the Italian-way of sauteeing and slow-cooking chopped vegetables in oil to add flavours to the dish. Instead of the Italian “Holy Trinity” combination of onions, carrots and celery, I like to opt for onions, carrots, garlic, plus a pinch of red chilli flakes.

Both onions and garlic are finely chopped and the carrots are grated so that the vegetables cook quicker. I cook them in 2 tbsp of cooking oil for about 15 minutes until they are softened and just begin to caramelise.

Then add in the mince meat, breaking up any lumps and continuously stirring to let the meat brown.

Stir in tomato paste and season with salt, black pepper, paprika and oregano. Mix well.

Pour in the canned chopped tomatoes and beef/lamb stock. Add in bay leaves. Turn to medium-low heat, cover and cook for an hour. Stir occasionally.

After the liquid’s been reduced, stir in the chopped parsley and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

The longer you cook the ragu, the more flavour you get. I tend to make the ragu the night before, letting it sit in its juices overnight and cook a little further the next day.

Making the Bechamel Sauce, i.e. the White Sauce

Having learnt how to make a Cypriot Pastitsio, I have ever since incorporated Halloumi cheese in my bechamel sauce.

I love the little extra savoury edge the halloumi cheese adds to the bechamel sauce. That’s why I use a blend of both halloumi and cheddar for the sauce.

Start by making a roux by first melting butter in a large pot and mix with plain flour until it forms into a smooth paste. Whisk in the milk, one cup at a time, until the mixture starts to thicken.

Stir in the crumbled vegetable stock cube, then stir in the grated halloumi cheese and cheddar cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted and a thick consistency forms.

Assembling & Baking the Lasagna

I personally like to pre-cook the lasagna sheets before assembling the lasagna but it’s entirely up to you whether to pre-cook or not. Though do check the package whether your lasagna sheets are suitable for cooking directly or not as some may require pre-cooking.

Start with spreading a layer of ragu over the bottom of your oven dish. Top with lasagna sheets, followed by a layer of the bechamel sauce and sprinkling some grated halloumi cheese. Repeat two more times until all the ragu is used up and the lasagna layers reach the top of your oven dish. The final layer should be lasagna sheets with bechamel sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining grated halloumi cheese and grated cheddar cheese on top, plus a pinch of dried oregano and chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Preheat oven to 180C. Cook the lasagna for roughly 40 minutes until the top comes out golden in colour. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Meat Lasagna

Ultimate Meat Lasagna Recipe

ET Food Voyage
The ultimate meat lasagna with a slightly non-traditional way of cooking, featuring extra rich and luscious umami flavours
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 55 mins
Resting Time 5 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 816 kcal

Equipment

  • Ovenproof dish

Ingredients
  

  • 8 Lasagna Sheets*

For the ragu:

  • 2 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli Flakes
  • 1 Onion finely chopped
  • 1 kg Mince Beef and/or Lamb I used half beef half lamb
  • 1 cup Carrot grated
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 400 g Chopped Tomatoes (1 tin)
  • 1 cup Beef/Lamb Stock
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp Parsley finely chopped

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 3 cups Milk
  • 3 tbsp Butter/Margarine
  • 4 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 3 g Vegetable Stock Cube crumbled
  • ½-1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 225 g Halloumi Cheese grated, save half for assembling & topping the lasagna
  • 150 g Cheddar Cheese grated, save roughly 50g for topping the lasagna

Instructions
 

Making the Ragu:

  • In a large pot, heat cooking oil over medium heat. Saute onions, garlic, red chilli flakes, and grated carrots for 15 minutes until softened and just about to caramelise.
  • Add in the minced meat, breaking up any lumps and cook till browned.
  • Stir in tomato paste and season with salt, black pepper, paprika and oregano. Mix well.
  • Pour in the canned chopped tomatoes and beef/lamb stock. Add the bay leaves. Turn to medium-low heat, cover and cook for 50-60 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • After the liquid's been reduced, stir in the chopped parsley. Remove from heat.

Making the Bechamel Sauce:

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat Then stir in flour and form a roux.
  • Whisk in the milk, one cup at a time, until the mixture starts to thicken.
  • Stir in the crumbled vegetable stock cube and black pepper. Then stir in the grated halloumi cheese and cheddar cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted and a thick consistency forms.

Assembling & Baking the Lasagna:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Start with spreading a layer of ragu over the bottom of your oven dish. Top with lasagna sheets, followed by a layer of the bechamel sauce and sprinkling some grated halloumi cheese.
  • Repeat two more times until all the ragu is used up and the lasagna layers reach the top of your oven dish. The final layer should be lasagna sheets with bechamel sauce on top.
  • Sprinkle remaining grated halloumi cheese and grated cheddar cheese on top, plus a pinch of dried oregano and chopped fresh coriander leaves.
  • Bake the lasagna for roughly 40 minutes until the top comes out golden in colour. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • The longer you cook the ragu, the more flavours you get.
  • I personally like to pre-cook the lasagna sheets before assembling the lasagna but it’s entirely up to you whether to pre-cook or not. Though do check the package whether your lasagna sheets are suitable for cooking directly or not as some may require pre-cooking.
Keyword Lasagna, Pasta

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Ultimate Meat Lasagna Recipe

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