It’s not even my type of music, yet I find the soundtrack to the Broadway Musical ‘Jersey Boys’ strangely infectious. It’s one of 3 musicals that I’ve seen ‘live’ in New York and I have incredibly fond memories of it, mostly due to the fact that I saw it on a fabulous girl’s weekend with a dear friend from Australia who was also living in the USA at the time.
Anyway… fast forward a few years and here you’ll find me singing along in my Aussie kitchen to the rather awkwardly high-pitched tones of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons as I prepare our dinner. I could have chosen something more traditionally Italian (as is more often the case), but this was really such a fun way to pass an hour or so! No inhibitions… the rest of the family were all out! The kitchen was MINE!
With such upbeat music in the air, there was a lightness of hand, head and heart that evening while cooking and singing in the kitchen… and the lasagne tasted better than ever! My question for you dear people is… is it possible that there’s a direct correlation between the two? Does music create tastier food? Should the genre of music be tailored to the style of food being prepared? Tell me… do you happen to enjoy singing in the kitchen too?
🎵”Oh What A Night!”🎵
(Beef & Mushroom) Lasagne | Gather and Graze
For the Meat Sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large French Shallot (or ½ Brown Onion) Chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
- ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 800g Beef Mince
- 125ml/½ Cup Red Wine
- 400g Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
- 2-3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (depending on strength of paste)
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
For the Bechamel Sauce:
- 60g Unsalted Butter
- 60g Plain Flour
- 600ml Milk (Warmed over gentle heat, or carefully in the microwave)
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper (or White Pepper instead if you have some)
- 6-8 Medium/Large Mushrooms (I prefer Swiss Brown) Sliced
- Small Bunch Flat-Leaf Parsley (Chopped)
- Fresh Pasta/Lasagne Sheets
- Cheese (Grated) for the topping (I like a mixture of Mozzarella and Parmesan)
To make the meat sauce… In a large frypan, gently sauté the shallot with a pinch of salt in the olive oil until translucent. Add the crushed garlic and oregano and sauté a minute or two more. Raise the heat a little and add the minced beef, cooking until browned. Pour in the wine and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes or so until reduced by about half. Now add the tomatoes, tomato paste and season to taste with some more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow to simmer for another 15-20 minutes at least. Then set aside to cool slightly, while you make the béchamel sauce.
To make the béchamel… Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low/medium heat. Add the flour and whisk continuously for a couple of minutes until the mixture begins to bubble gently. Remove from the heat and add the (warmed) milk all at once, whisking as you do to ensure there are no lumps. Place the pan back on the heat and continue to whisk until it comes to a simmer and thickens. Allow to simmer for about a further couple of minutes, then remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and a good grinding of pepper.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Begin to layer the lasagne in a large baking dish. I always start with a little meat sauce spread across the base, then a layer of fresh lasagne sheets, followed by a good layer (about half) of the meat sauce, sliced mushrooms (with a portion left without for our youngest who hasn’t yet realised how wonderful mushrooms really are…) and then a scattering of chopped parsley…
Now add a layer of béchamel sauce (about a third)…
then back to the lasagne sheets. Repeat this process then top the final lasagne sheets with a further layer of béchamel sauce and finish with some grated cheese.
Place into the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes or so, until heated all the way through… and the cheese has melted and gone golden and bubbly on top.
Serve with a fresh garden salad and a glass of red… Oh and please pretend you didn’t see those little elbows on the table! 😉