Beef & Gruyère lasagne

25 Jul

I’m a huge fan of Terra del Capo – the Italian-inspired wine range & destination by Rupert Wines, a premium wine estate situated on the outskirts of Franschhoek. Apart from classical Italian wine varietals, they offer a range of Italian-style tapas at their tasting room eatery, one of which is a mini lasagne. It pairs beautifully with their Sangiovese, a red wine with juicy cherry and plum flavours, tinged with spice and black pepper. The team of Terra del Capo approached me to create a lasagne recipe of my own to celebrate their Sangiovese in these colder months – what better than a glass of red with a freshly baked, hearty lasagne for dinner?

My recipe to pair with Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese is a beef & Gruyère lasagne, made with 100% pure beef mince, fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme & sage, beef stock, red wine (Sangiovese, of course), and smoked paprika for added smokiness and to elevate the slow cooked beef flavours. Instead of parmesan cheese, which is delicious but can be very expensive, I’ve chosen a local vintage Gruyère-style cheese – strong and nutty. It just goes a little further than the parmesan, and is a much better choice than a young cheddar or mozzarella. If you want to use cheddar, a 9-12 month mature will also work wonders.

My lasagne was made with freshly rolled pasta sheets – only because I recently got the attachment for my Kenwood mixer – what a pleasure! If you don’t have a pasta machine at home, store-bought dried lasagne sheets work just as well and they don’t need pre-cooking because my bolognese sauce is quite saucy.

My lasagne has four layers, so when you’re assembling keep in mind how much meat sauce and bechamel you’re using to have enough left for a last top layer of meat and a thick layer of bechamel. It makes all the difference.

This is a family-size lasagne and the recipe can easily be halved to serve only 4. However, if you’re going to take the effort to make something as delicious as this, you might as well make enough to last for seconds and thirds over the next few days. It lasts very well in the fridge (for a few days) and can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

For the beef bolognese sauce:

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful fresh herbs, finely chopped (rosemary, thyme, sage)
  • 250 ml red wine (Terra del Capo Sangiovese)
  • 375 ml beef stock (or 1 stock cube dissolved in 375 ml boiling water)
  • 800 g canned Italian whole tomatoes, pureed
  • 15 ml smoked paprika
  • 10 ml sugar
  • 10 ml salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large heavy based pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrot & celery. Stir, then cover with a lid and leave to steam while frying (you don’t want to brown these yet, you just want it to soften.) Fry, stirring often, for about 7-8 minutes until they are soft.
  2. Add the mince and turn the heat up to high. Stir, breaking up all the lumps as you go. The meat will at a stage release quite a lot of liquid, just keep on cooking until it evaporates and starts to fry in it’s own fat. You want the bottom to start catching and turn brown – it takes about 15 minutes.
  3. When the bottom starts to turn brown, add the garlic and herbs and fry for another minute. Then add the red wine and remove the pot from the heat for a minute to stir and loosen any sticky brown bits from the bottom. If you don’t do this, the pot might burn easily later on.
  4. Return the pot to high heat, add the stock, pureed tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent the bottom from burning. When done, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Note: The bolognese can be made a day in advance, cooled and refrigerated until ready to use. Reheat in the microwave for easier assembly.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until ready to assembly.

For the bechamel (white sauce):

  • 80 g (1/3 cup) butter
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 liter milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) Dijon mustard
  • 5 ml salt (plus more, if necessary)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour, stirring. Cook for at least 2 minutes taking care not to brown the butter.
  2. Add the milk all at once, stirring vigorously with a wire whisk at first. Continue stirring every now and then as it heats up, taking care to scrape the bottom as the sauce starts to thicken. Just as the sauce starts to bubble and it gets thick like custard, stir very well and remove from the heat.
  3. Add the nutmeg, mustard, salt & pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning – the bechamel should not be bland, it should be able to “stand on its own”. Cover with a lid until ready to assemble.

For assembly:

  • 1 batch bechamel sauce (see above)
  • about 500 g fresh lasagne sheets or 400 g dried lasagne sheets
  • 1 batch bolognese sauce (see above)
  • 200 g mature Gruyère-style cheese, coarsely grated (about 3 cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Whisk the bechamel to remove any skins that has formed on top. (Heat the bolognese sauce in the microwave, if using from refrigerated.)
  3. In a large deep oven dish or roasting tray (about 30 x 22 x 7 cm) , add a ladle full of bechamel on the bottom of the dish and spread it all over to prevent the pasta from sticking. Continue with your first layer of lasagne sheets, covering the whole surface (break/cut off pieces if they’re too big). Continue with your first layer of meat sauce, spreading it out into the corners. Then your first proper layer of bechamel – not too much, just drizzle a ladle-full all over and continue.
  4. Now do the second layer of bechamel, pasta, meat sauce & bechamel. Sprinkle half the cheese over.
  5. Assemble the third and the fourth layers. End with a thick layer of bechamel and top with the other half of the cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, then turn up the heat to 220 C and continue for another 10-15 minutes until it is golden brown and bubbly on top.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to stand at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving – the lasagne will be very runny at first but will stabilize on standing. Serve hot with a green side salad and Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese.

This post was proudly created in collaboration with Terra del Capo.

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