After many years of trialling difference recipes, the method I use from memory seems to work reliably so here it is, committed to posterity. This makes four huge portions or six sensible ones.

  • 750g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 rashers of bacon
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Oxo cube
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 8 basil leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 wineglass of red wine
  • 450ml milk
  • lump of butter or equivalent
  • 30-40g plain flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • another carrot and stick of celery left whole
  • 200g cheddar cheese grated
  • 9 sheets dried lasagne
  • oil, salt, pepper

First chop the onion, celery, carrots and bacon finely. Heat the oil in a large pan and stir-fry until soft but not coloured. Add the mince and garlic, and continue stir frying until all pink has gone from the mince. Add the tinned tomatoes. Crumble the oxo cube into the tin and fill the tin with boiling water. Tip into the pan. Add the basil, red wine and tomato paste. Simmer covered for one hour.

Meanwhile start the white sauce by putting the milk, bay leaf, extra carrot and celery stick into the milk with four whole peppercorns. It helps to chop the carrot and celery very roughly into big chunks. Bring the milk to the boil then switch off and leave until you make the cheese sauce.

After the meat has been simmering 40 minutes, make the sauce. Strain the flavoured milk and discard the vegetable bits. Heat the butter gently in another pad until melted, add the flour and cook away until it bubbles. Add the strained milk and stir like crazy to mix, then heat the sauce, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be a thick creamy consistency. You might need to adjust the amount of flour used with practice. Add three quarters of the cheese and melt it in to make a smooth creamy sauce.

When your meat is ready, assemble the lasagne thus: take a lasagne dish and put a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom. Put three sheets of lasagne over to cover. Repeat three times. Pour the cheese sauce over the top and spread it out. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake at 190C for 30 minutes. Awesome.