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Classic Italian lasagna on a plate.

Real Italian Lasagna

In our Secrets of Italian Food series, Italian chef Danilo Cortellini shares his tips and recipes for some of Italy's finest and most loved recipes.

Here the self-confessed pasta lover shows us how to make a traditional Italian lasagna, crispy and golden on the outside and juicy in the middle. As the chef says, who doesn't love an Italian lasagna?

While there are many variations of lasagne, a traditional bolognese lasagne hails from Emilia Romagna, complete with layers of juicy meat ragù and creamy béchamel sauce in between homemade sheets of pasta, baked to crispy perfection.

Learn how to master a real Italian lasagna at home, with Danilo Cortellini.

07 November, 2022
Average: 4.6 (7 votes)

Cuisine

Season & Occasion

serves for

8

ingredients

For the pasta
Flour 00
300g
Semolina flour
100g (durum wheat flour)
Eggs
220g (usually 4 eggs and 1 yolk)
For the béchamel
Milk
1l
Butter
80g
Flour 00
80g
Salt
To taste
Nutmeg
Freshly grated, to taste
For the ragù
Beef mince
500g
Pork mince
350g (or pancetta or sausages)
Butter
80g
Olive oil
3 tbsp
Onion
1 large, chopped
Carrots
1 large, chopped
Celery
1 stalk, chopped
Plum tomatoes
700g, peeled
Tomato paste
1 tbsp
White wine
150ml, dry
Thyme
A sprig
Rosemary
A sprig
Sage
A sprig
Milk
A splash (optional)
Salt and pepper
To taste
To build the lasagna
Butter
50g, unsalted
Grana padano cheese
400g, grated

Watch the video

Step 01

Preparing the pasta dough for the lasagna.

For the pasta

Create a well on your worktop with both flours and pour the eggs in the middle. Mix with a fork to start, then use your hands when the eggs and flour start to bind together. Knead with energy by stretching and pulling your dough back together. This will activate the gluten in the flour, giving you an elastic dough. 

 

 

Step 02

Resting the pasta dough for the lasagna.

When smooth and elastic, and all is absorbed and incorporated, wrap the dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes in the fridge. 

 

Step 03

Rolling the dough for the lasagna.

With the help of a pasta machine, roll the dough into thin rectangular sheets about 1mm thick. Let them dry, floured, for 15 minutes on your bench, and then pass them again in the machine at the same setting. This will make them more porous. Dust with a little flour and keep the pasta sheets between parchment, ready to be used.

 

Step 04

Making a roux.

For the béchamel

Melt the butter in a casserole pan and add the flour. Cook and mix with a spatula for about 3 minutes until you have a golden roux. 

 

Step 05

Adding milk to the béchamel.

Pour in warmed milk and bring everything to the boil while sporadically mixing with a whisk. Season with salt and grated nutmeg and set aside.

Step 06

Cooking ragù.

For the ragù

In a large pot, roast the minced meats with olive oil and butter until lightly browned and caramelised. 

Step 07

Adding chopped vegetables to the ragù.

Add the chopped vegetables and sweat for a few minutes while mixing every now and then. 

Step 08

Adding herbs to the ragù.

Create a bouquet with the herbs, wrap it in kitchen twine and add it to the pot. 

Step 09

Adding wine and tomatoes to the ragù.

When everything is golden, pour in the wine, let the alcohol evaporate, add the tomatoes and season to taste.

Step 10

Adding tomato paste to the ragù.

Simmer slowly for a couple of hours and add water or stock if needed and a spoon of tomato paste for a richer flavour. 

Step 11

Adding milk to the ragù.

When ready, add a splash of milk to the ragù to mitigate the tomato acidity. Keep ready on the side.

Step 12

Building the lasagna.

To build the lasagna

Grease a deep oven-proof dish with butter and spread béchamel and ragù on the bottom. 

Step 13

Layering the lasagna.

Add the first pasta sheet and cover with a few spoons of béchamel and ragù and a few little knobs of butter, plus plenty of grated grana padano. 

Repeat the layering until you have reached the top of the dish or have a 5-layer lasagna at least. Remember to dress each layer equally and not to leave areas of the pasta uncovered, especially on the last layer, which will crisp up a little when in the oven. 

Step 14

Baking the lasagna.

Bake at 160°C for about 45 minutes until golden on top. If the lasagna is getting too dark on the top but still looks very runny, cover with foil and cook for a few more minutes.

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Chef Danilo Cortellini

Danilo Cortellini

Cortellini is the head chef at the Italian Embassy in London, and founder of Tiramisoo Events, a London-based catering and events company w

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