Hopefully everyone has realised by now that good food is all about love. The food is only as good as the love and care that has gone into it. It’s not about how exclusive and trendy the restaurant is, or how many types of purees there are on the food or how artful it is.
Why is this the best lasagna in the world? It’s because it’s made by one of the person who loves me the most in the world. And, that, is worth everything.
Josh first made this for me about three dates into our relationship. That was the day I distinctly remember as the day I totally fell in love with him. It was a lovely summer day, his plum trees were full of red plump fruits, the sky was bright blue, his roses were in full bloom and the bees were going crazy on the flowers, and I had the best comfort food in the world, lasagna, without the luxury of having an Italian mother.
This is the way Josh makes his lasagna:
He would heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil, to which he would add half an onion that has been carefully diced. He then adds two chopped rindless bacon. He would slowly cook it until the onion goes all soft and translucent and the bacon slightly coloured. Then, he would take about 300 g. of good minced beef (not the fatty horrible supermarket one) and two cloves of crushed garlic and add that to the mix.
He would stir until the mince browns and all the juice evaporates. He would add a can of diced tomatoes and two tablespoons of tomato paste (he usually buys those sachet ones that individually contain two tablespoons per serve).
He would then pick leaves from two or three sprigs of fresh oregano and add to the mince sauce. Sometimes he would put other fresh herbs in. He likes to grow rosemary, sage and thyme together because the combination amuses him (greensleeves, geddit?) When we have some fresh parsley growing, usually in summer, or I bought a bunch from the market, he would chop a handful of parsley stalks in, reserving the leaves for later.
He would then turn the heat down to simmer and let it stew over for twenty minutes. This is where patience comes in. He doesn’t rush. There’s no rushing, no shortcuts to good food for him. He would give it a stir once in a while but mostly just let it sit there, bubbling.
After twenty minutes, he would chop up the reserved parsley leaves and add that to sauce and stir it through. He would get his old faithful glass baking dish and spoon the mince sauce onto the bottom of the baking dish and layer instant lasagna sheets on, ensuring every inch of the sauce is covered, breaking off bits of the sheet if he has to. He would repeat this until the baking dish fills up. There’s no bechamel sauce. No creme fraiche. No cheese in between the layers. Just the mince sauce that had been patiently stewed until it’s just right and the pasta sheets.
He would cut a few slices from a ball of good quality mozzarella cheese, not a fresh white ball, the normal pale cream diseccated one that you get from a deli (or a supermarket with good selection of cheese) and top off the last layer of the lasagna. He would grate a thing sprinkling of parmesan cheese as well. There’s no buying of pregrated icky supermarket cheese, of course.
He would then carefully cover it with a layer of foil, then off it goes into the oven at 180′ c for another good twenty minutes. He would then uncover the lasagna and turn the heat up to 220’c and bake for another ten minutes until the cheese is golden brown.
He would then cut up a good section and plonk a good portion of it for his hungry wife (who would usually be very hungry by now because he needs at least two hours to ‘make it properly’) Sometimes he would do up a nice green salad with various ingredients that take his fancy (I once discovered strawberries and pineapple in his ‘green’ salad, ‘it’s half way fruit salad, isn’t it awesome?’) to go alongside the lasagna.
There’s always leftovers to take to work the next day.