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 lasagne. 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 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 and repeat.
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).