This beef cheek lasagna is all about textures. From the soft pieces of slow cooked beef to the layers of pasta and creamy bechamel to the comfort inducing topping of cheesy scalloped potatoes, this lasagna just has to be made. You can make it using any leftover slow cooked meat or I like to slow roast a double portion so that I have extra to put in this lasagna.
I know that I sound like a broken record (do people even know what that means anymore with iPods? ;) ) but I really thought this year would be a calming one, not one that churned through at breakneck speed. And today I'm wondering how we suddenly found ourselves in the second half of the year (which means one thing to me: Halloweeeeeen! :D). Which also means that it's time for another In My Kitchen hosted by Celia where we show you what is new in our kitchens.
Last month I came back from Thailand so in my Kitchen is this gorgeous vintage tiffin and painted enamel platter. We were walking through the streets of Phuket after watching a Baba wedding when we happened upon this gorgeous store selling all sorts of enamel items. It was a fairly pricey shop so I went a little mad in there but only a little because they only accepted cash. They had plenty of new tiffins but I liked the vintage tiffin in the glass cabinet (although the thought did occur to me that I should have really just bought a new one and bashed it about) and so a deal was struck!
The second pic is some green enamel spoons that I bought from the same shop (10 of them bundled up!) and some candied fruit skins. I have never seen these before so I bought them for Mr NQN. He described them in one word, no more, no less. That word was "Interesting". I tried to get more out of him but he was not forthcoming so I tried them for myself. They were slightly herbal but pleasant candied fruit, not as sharp as candied orange. But even after sending the pic to Thai friends, I still have no idea what the actual fruit was - if anyone knows, please tell me :)
The third pic has a vintage colander also bought from that shop. There was only one colander and this was it and although I have several already, I loved the blue flowers on the white background and fell in love. On the right is another thing that I bought just to try. It looks like a bike wheel. It turns out it is a caramelised bael fruit or Bengal quince, a sacred fruit in Indian culture used as a medicinal plant! Thankfully I asked a friend before eating these because I googled it and it turns out that it is used for constipation and diarrhea, two different concepts I would have thought but neither desirable!
If you had looked in our freezer this month you would have also found some beef cheeks. I ended up slow cooking some more just to have some for a lasagna idea that came to me one night while I was in bed watching television. It was a lasagna topped with a scalloped potato gratin! I was thinking of ways to use up the few lasagna sheets I had left and suddenly the idea of a potato grain lasagna popped into my head!
It's surprisingly easy and you can use beef cheeks or any slow cooked meat you have. I've eaten it in restaurants and the texture of the meat is so good and so different from a typical lasagna with mince meat. And given that you're using already cooked meat leftovers then it makes this a cinch to put together. It's really just making the bechamel and layering everything together!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever make extra so that you have leftovers you can cook with? Any guesses on what that green candied fruit is? Do you ever buy or eat things without knowing what they are?
Beef Cheek Lasagna With Scalloped Cheesy Potato Crust!
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
- 800g/28.26 slow cooked beef cheeks (or really any slow cooked meat is great, see recipe here)
- 400ml/14.13fl ozs. tomato passata
- 100g/3.5ozs. lasagna sheets, rinsed under water
- 75g/2.65ozs. butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 cups hot milk
- 4 potatoes, washed well
- 1 cup cheese
- 50g/1.7ozs butter, cut into small cubes
Step 1 - Cook the beef cheeks in a large cast iron pot with the passata and break down the cheeks so that they are shredded up. Set aside to cool and test for seasoning adding salt and pepper if needed.
Step 2 - Make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan and once melted, add the flour and stir to cook the mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and fradually add the hot milk whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 3 - Preheat the oven to 190C/374F. PLace a layer of bechamel sauce on the base of a lasagna tin - I used a square springform tin because I like slicing lasagna exactly and I find that being able to remove the sides allows me to do that. But use any square tin. Add a layer of lasagna sheets beef and then a layer of beef, bechamel and more sheets. Repeat until everything is used up.
Step 4 - Slice the potatoes and layer them on top of the lasagna. Sprinkle with salt and then add the cheese on top of the potatoes as well as the cubes of butter. Cover with foil (spray the foil with non stick oil spray to prevent it sticking) and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and then bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered.