This version of the Italian dish, lasagne ai funghi e tartufo, has been simplified, rather than anglicised. It’s an incredibly useful, and easy recipe. It looks as if it has lots of ingredients (it does, but they are all easy to find), and many steps, but they are all quick – add this, add that. Nevertheless, this is lasagne – you have to make two sauces, and then allow at least half an hour in the oven for baking.

This lasagne will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, and it will also freeze well. Pour in a little cream when you reheat.

Serve with a light salad of fennel and watercress. Or a crisp green salad, dressed with a walnut oil-based vinaigrette.

If you want a real treat pair this with a 20+ year old Barolo…or a Burgundy. Both of these have a sort of earthy quality which goes swimmingly with the truffle, and the tannins cut through the rich meat.

 

Recipe for truffled beef and mushroom lasagne

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 30g/1oz dried porcini
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • ½ carrot
  • a little sage and rosemary, needles and leaves finely chopped
  • 150g/5 oz – 200g/7 oz interesting mushrooms – chestnut, shiitake, oyster
  • 500g/18 oz good quality, not too much fat, minced beef
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with 1 tsp salt
  • 120ml/½ cup red vermouth
  • 680g/2¾ cups passata – Waitrose Duchy is a good one
  • 120 ml/½ cup beef stock made with two stock cubes… Oxo will do
  • 50g/2 oz/one-fifth of a brick of butter
  • 6 tbsps plain flour
  • 600 ml/2½ cups milk
  • 60 ml/¼ cup/4 tbsps double cream
  • 300g/10 oz lasagne sheets
  • 50g/2 oz grated parmesan…or a little more
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil – good quality – the type that’s seen a truffle
  • smoked salt and some Urfa pepper flakes, or generous grinds of black pepper
  • olive oil for frying

Method

  1. Soak the porcini in some (about a cup) of the milk for half an hour and drain – reserving the milk.
  2. In a hob-proof casserole (a Dutch oven – ideally a Staub) heat some oil.
  3. Peel and chop the onion and add to the oil, fry gently.
  4. Peel/scrape the carrot, slice thinly and add.
  5. Destring and chop the celery, add.
  6. Add the sage and rosemary.
  7. Prepare your mushrooms, cleaning, peeling if necessary, and chopping roughly. When the onion has become translucent – add.
  8. Chop any large porcini, and add the porcini to the rest.
  9. Add the salted and crushed garlic. Stir in. Add in about a quarter of a teaspoon Urfa pepper flakes – or some generous grinds of black pepper
  10. Add the mince, breaking it up as you do so. Fry to get it browned and cooked through.
  11. Add the red vermouth, the beef stock and the passata.
  12. Bring to the boil and simmer (use the Aga simmering oven) uncovered while you make the béchamel. Stir every now and then. The sauce should have thickened up by the end of this.
  13. Preheat your oven to 210°C.
  14. Meanwhile make your béchamel – in a medium saucepan melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well to make a paste and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.
  15. Stir in the milk, including the milk drained from the mushrooms, slowly, making sure that no lumps form (if they do despatch them with a stick blender!)
  16. Once the sauce has thickened up, stir in the cream and the truffle oil. If it still looks a bit too thick add a little more milk.
  17. In your lasagne dish (usually a shallow, ceramic, rectangular dish, or it could be a roasting tin), spread some of the meat sauce thinly over the bottom. Drizzle over about a third of the béchamel. Sprinkle over a little parmesan.
  18. Top with a layer of lasagne sheets. Then another thin layer of meat sauce. Then some of the béchamel and sprinkle over half the Parmesan. Then the lasagne sheets. Top with the remaining meat sauce… fill in any bits where the lasagne sheets show through with the remaining béchamel. Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan. 
  19. Bake 30 minutes until golden brown, and then serve.

 

For a post explaining the science behind making a béchamel sauce (and a cheat’s way to make it quickly) go to this post.

 

Music to listen to as you cook

Savoy Truffle… by The Beatles….in fact, this dish takes a while to cook, so you might as well treat yourself to the whole White Album, wonderful collection.