Puttanesca used to be my signature dish.
Salty, tangy and a luxurious blend of tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, olives, and capers, ‘whore’s pasta’ was the dish I brought out to impress. That was until The Thirsty Manc told me that the best Puttanesca he’d ever had was made by nuns who ran a hospital in the north of Italy.
How was I ever going to compete with that?
Quite frankly, I wasn’t, and I haven’t made puttanesca since. In fact, I’ve steered clear of most Italian classics. But not lasage. Because this recipe is bloody wonderful. Take that nurse nun.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 1 carrot – finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery – finely chopped
- 500g chuck steak cut into small diced pieces
- 50g chicken livers, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 small tin anchovies, chopped
- 100ml red wine
- 500ml passata
- Grated nutmeg
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 600ml whole milk
- Approx 9 sheets dried egg lasagne
- 100g grated parmesan
- 1 ball of mozzarella – torn
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion until softened
- Add the carrot and cook for a further five minutes
- Add the celery and cook for another two minutes
- Turn up the heat, add the chopped beef and cook until browned all over
- Stir in the chopped livers and anchovies and cook for another three minutes
- Pour in the wine and passata, season with a pinch of grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper
- Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat down and cover
- Simmer gently for two hours
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C
- Uncover and simmer for another 30 minutes until the sauce is almost dry
- Melt the butter in a medium pan and then whisk in the flour
- Cook for a couple more minutes then gradually whisk in the milk and bring to the boil. Keep stirring throughout
- Simmer and stir for about five minutes until the sauce has thickened
- Take a deep, wide dish and coat the bottom with a third of the meat sauce, topped with a quarter of the béchamel sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan
- Top with a layer of pasta
- Repeat for two more layers
- Top the last layer of pasta with the remaining béchamel sauce, parmesan, and the mozzarella
- Grate some nutmeg over the top and cook for 40 minutes until golden and bubbling
- Rest for 20 minutes before serving.
Serves 4 (it’s bloody brilliant the next day).