forum: Food & Drink

#1 Tue 05 Aug 08 4:20pm


Member since Tue 05 Aug 08

Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

Help I need some advice please ...I need to know how to make the best Lasagna in the world in three weeks. Not just good but a piece of truly perfect hand-crafted pasta perfection!

The reason why ...Last saturday I made a statement to a good friend (after a few too many) that I could make the best Lasagna ever. In fact, I went as far as stating that I could make a lasagna better than any Italian... good buddy mentioned this in passing to his Italian mates, Mario and Frankie, that this new zealand chap (thats me) has laid down a Lasagna challenge.They're taking this seriously and are getting help from their family and friends in Elba/Italy, and the first challenge date has now been set three weeks from now - NZ vs. Italy.

Does anyone have some great tips for making 'the' very very best
pasta and Lasagna? So far, for the pasta, I've got a recommendation of 110 grams of organic pasta flour to one large free range egg. Is that the absolute best way?

For the sauce I've got  recommendation of using a traditional meat sauce but add chargrilled red peppers and marinated cherry tomatoes to give it a little twist, but again if anyone can help that would be great.

Would dearly appreciate any advice on this - I really want to win this challenge.

Thank's for checking out this post,


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#2 Tue 05 Aug 08 4:39pm

Captain C

Forum champ
Occupation Sales
From Essex
Member since Tue 05 Feb 08

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

good post pastamaker.

There have been quite a few "Lasagne" theads, maybe try searching through some of these ?

Whats at stake for the winner ?

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#3 Tue 05 Aug 08 4:57pm


Forum champ
From Scotland
Member since Thu 15 Jul 04

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

Hello Mark, welcome -

Hope this info is of help.

Jamie's Pasta Recipes from his book "The Naked Chef"

Everyday Quick Pasta - serves 4.

500gr / l lb strong pasta flour (tipo 00)
5 fresh large free-range eggs
semolina flour for dusting

Special Pasta - serves 4.

150gr / 5oz strong pasta flour (tipo 00)
350gr / 12oz semolina flour (if you can't get hold of any semolina flour then plain flour will do)
2 large free-range eggs
9 - 10 large free-range egg yolks
semolina flour for dusting

Method for both pasta recipes -

The making of pasta isn't some temperamental nightmare - you just chuck the eggs and flour together, no big deal.  You don't need salt or oil, that's a factory fallacy.  The only essential for the most superior pasta experience is the freshest free-range eggs and good, finely ground, strong flour and semolina flour.  We will knead these ingredients to a smooth, fine and silky-textured dough, and work it enough to develop and strengthen the structure of the gluten in the dough to make it elastic,

If you are making pasta by hand do it either on a clean surface or in a bowl.  The whole process will take about 5 minutes .  A processor or a mixer will take even less time.

Making the Dough -

Stage 1 (by hand)

Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs (and yolks if using the special recipe ingredients).  Using a fork, break up the eggs slightly as you bring up the flour from the sides.  As it begins to form a semi-soft dough, start to use your hands.  Work the dough hard, or about 3 minutes, until smooth, silky and elastic.  Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

Stage 1 (in a mixer)

Use the dough hook on the mixer.  Add the flour to the eggs/yolks and mix at a medium speed for about 3 minutes or until it becomes a tight dough.  Take it out of the mixer and finish kneading by hand for about a minute or until smooth, silky and elastic.  Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

Stage 1 (in a food processor)

Plonk it all in and turn it on.  Within 30 seconds it should look like chewy-looking breadcrumbs.  Leave it just a little longer to allow it to start working the gluten.  It should now start to come together into larger balls of dough.  Take it all out (the bowl should be clean) and work by hand for 2 minutes or until smooth, silky and elastic.  Wrap in clingfilm and allow it to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

Rolling the Pasta into sheets -

Stage 2 (with a rolling pin)

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 2 balls.  Re-cover 1 of the balls and with the base of the palm of your hand, flatten the other one slightly.  Lightly flour your clean surface and with a rolling pin begin to roll out, always rolling away from you, dusting and turning 90 degrees.  Repeat this process until you have a very thin sheet of pasta, about 1 - 2 cm thick, depending on what pasta variation you are making.

It does help to have a long, smooth and preferably heavy rolling pin.  When rolling the sheet of pasta out you can try to make it into a square shape, but it's not that important.  I actually think it is better to have the pasta looking handmade than looking perfect, like factory pasta.

Stage 2 (with a pasta machine)

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 4 balls.  Re-cover 3 balls and work with one at a time.  Flatten the ball slightly with the base of the palm of your hand and run the dough through the thickest setting on your pasta machine, which will roll it out into a thick sheet.  What I do is fold the two ends into the middle and run the dough through, on the thickest seeting 3 or 4 times, which makes the sides of the pasta fill out to the fulll width of your pasta machine.  Then I lightly dust both sides with flour and run it through the machine on a thinner setting.  I repeat this through the settings until the sheets are 1 - 1.5cm thick.  With a machine you can roll the sheets of pasta a lot thinner than you can by hand.

Jamie's recipe for Simple Baked Lasagne from his book "Jamie's Dinners" - serves 6.

Lasagne is always best when made with fresh sheets of pasta, and these are now available in all good supermarkets.  I haven't used a bechamel sauce because it takes too long - I've used a creme fraiche mixture that does a great job.  A mixture of beef and pork is really tasty - it's just a brilliant sauce which can also be used for making spaghetti bolognaise, mixing with sauteed mushrooms and pappardelle.  It will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

4 rashers pancetta or smoked bacon, finely sliced
a pinch of cinnamon
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (sage, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme)
olive oil
400gr/14oz shin of beef or stewing beef, minced coarsely
200gr/7oz pork belly, skin removed, minced
2 x 400gr tins of good quality plum tomatoes
2 glasses of red wine or water
2 bay leaves
1 butternut squash, baked, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, bashed
1 dried red chilli, bashed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400gr/14oz fresh lasagne sheets
400gr/14oz mozzarella, torn up

For the White Sauce -

1 x 500ml tub of creme fraiche
3 anchovies, finely chopped
2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
optional - a little milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

In a large casserole type pan slowly fry the pancetta and cinnamon until golden, then add the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Mix together, then add the beef and pork.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes and the wine or water.  Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil.  Then get some greaseproof paper, wet it and place it on top of the pan with a lid placed on top as well.  Then place in the preheated oven for 2 hours or simmer on the hob over a gentle heat for around an hour and a half.  Rub your butternut squash slices with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the bashed-up coriander seeds and chilli.  Place on a baking tray and roast in the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking the sauce.  When the sauce is done, season to taste and put to one side.  Mix together your creme fraiche, anchovies, and a handful of Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper.  You may need to loosen the mixture with a little milk.

Turn the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

To assemble the lasagne, rub an earthenware lasagne dish with olive oil, lay some sheets of lasagne over the bottom and drape them over the sides.  Add a layer of meat, a little white sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan.  Break the butternut squash into pieces and use this as one layer, then repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of pasta covered in white sauce.  Tear over the mozzarella and sprinkle with some extra Parmesan.  Cook in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.

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#4 Tue 05 Aug 08 5:02pm


Member since Tue 05 Aug 08

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

Cheers mate!

hahaha, 'Pride' is the only stake at the moment Captain!

I've just had some advice from a good mate, Eddie. He's checking out the best NZ pinot noir to add a little flavour to the meat sauce while it's simmering. And I'm going to check out Borough market to find the very best british lardons.

Thanks again!  thumbsup

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#5 Tue 05 Aug 08 5:16pm

Captain C

Forum champ
Occupation Sales
From Essex
Member since Tue 05 Feb 08

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

Good luck pastamaker, take some pics and let us know how you got on  thumbsup

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#6 Tue 05 Aug 08 5:16pm


Member since Tue 05 Aug 08

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

Thanks Tanya!  I especially like the 2-1 with the beef and pork mince.

...any advantage over these guys the better. big_smile

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#7 Tue 05 Aug 08 11:52pm


Forum super champ
Occupation avoiding housework
From The land of song.
Member since Tue 04 Oct 05

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

When I layer a Lasagne, I always start with a thin layer of the White Sauce on the base of the dish that is sprinkled with some fresh grated Parmesan, then it varies a bit !! sometimes I put a layer of Lasagne sheet ontop of this and sometimes (I forget ! and ) I put a layer of the meatsauce ontop of the white sauce.
Either way between each layer I put a thin layer of white sauce and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan.
The final layer of Pasta is covered with a thin layer of White Sauce and some mozzarella and a very genorous grateing of fresh Parmesan .

I make the white sauce the standard way with butter, plain flour , milk and a little seasoning.

The Pasta recipe proportions that I use are... 100g 00gauge pasta flour to 1 egg
(I use whole egg not just the yolk as some do ) this works very well. Thats it ,,nothing else.

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#8 Wed 06 Aug 08 1:55am


From Canada
Member since Mon 26 May 08

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

all of these suggestions are great - i would just add a comment my husband made to me once - he played semi pro soccer for an italian team in Canada and was fed by all the italian mothers of the other players - and the concensus from them was that the best lasagne can never have too much cheese

good luck!!!

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#9 Wed 06 Aug 08 2:25am


Forum super champ
Occupation Mother of 2 working more than full time
From Wallerawang, Oz
Member since Wed 29 Jun 05

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

A few monthes ago a bunch of us from another made this, most agreed it was their most sucessful lasagna ever.

Challenge Lasagne

Oil and butter (enough to cover the base of the pan you are using)
1 med to large carrot diced
1 med to large onion diced
Couple of sticks of celery diced
500gms beef mince
2 to 3 anchovy fillets
½ a 700gm bottle of passata sauce
Couple of tablespoons each of chopped fresh parsley and sweet basil
Fresh lasagne sheets
50/50 mix of grated whatever cheese you have and parmesan cheese (grate enough to generously cover the top of the dish to your liking)

Bechamel Sauce
60gms butter
1/3 cup plain flour
2 ¼ cups milk
½ teaspoon nutmeg (I grate it fresh)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180c
Heat the pan and melt the butter and oil. Add the vege’s and cook until softened. Add the mince in batches and brown breaking up the lumps. Sneak in the anchovies and break up. They will dissolve.
Mix in the cooking sauce, herbs and season to your liking. Cook simmering for about 30minutes and then set aside off the heat.

To make the sauce. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat until foaming. Add the flour and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. I use a whisk from here on. Return to the heat and bring to the boil stirring constantly until it is thick enough that when you stir it you can see the bottom of the pan. (I can’t explain it any better than that. I hope you know what I mean.) Season well with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Brush a dish with oil and spread a thin layer of the meat mix, then a thin layer of sauce and then cover with the lasagne sheets. Repeat this a couple of times. Continue the layers finishing with lasagne sheets topped only with sauce and the cheese.
I use a glass dish which is about 27 x 18cm and about 4cm deep and I get 3 layers of meat.
Bake for about 35 – 40mins or until golden brown on top.

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#10 Thu 07 Aug 08 1:10pm


Member since Thu 07 Aug 08

Re: Help - How do I make the best lasagna in the world?

Baking the best lasagna is all about making the best bolognese. The bolognese should not, whatever happens, be dry. There should still be a good third of a litre of liquid with the sauce when you start preparing the lasagna itself.

For the bolognese, instead of just using beef, use a combination of 3 parts beef, 3 parts pork, 2 parts veal and 1 part pancetta.

Meat as above
2 cloves of garlic, crushed under the blade of a knife and diced.
1 aubergine, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 whole tomatoes, destalked
handful of cherry tomatoes
500ml passata
2 table spoons of tomato concentrate
2 full glasses of red wine + more if it starts to dry out.
Handful of freshly shredded basil
Make sure you don't oversalt this as the pancetta will already have some salt.

The bolognese should be cooked for a minimum of two hours.

Frizz's bechmal recipe is precisely what I'd do, except that after making the roux I'd add a dollop of creme fraiche before the milk.

I'd personally do two layers of meat and one layer of bechmal, topped with cheese (preferablly a combination of mozzarella and parmesan).

make sure the top layer of pasta sheets are all covered with at least some bechmal, otherwise the edges will burn.

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