Hidden layers: Bill Granger reveals the secret to his favourite lasagne recipe
Sunday 26 January 2014
People imagine that those of us who work with food professionally entertain in wildly extravagant ways, but if I'm honest, the opposite is the case. Experience has taught me that it's always best to keep it as simple as possible.
As a host, my aim is not for friends to be impressed by my cooking; I'd much rather they leave feeling well nourished by good company and relaxed, enjoyable food.
A lasagne ticks that box perfectly in my book, as I was reminded of recently when Giovanni, the owner of Fratelli Paradiso in Sydney, invited us to dinner. The lasagne he served on that most perfect evening was a world away from the usual mince and bechamel you get everywhere.
Made with just really simply braised pork shredded into a spicy sauce and layered between pasta sheets, it was such a good recipe that I've pinched it and adapted it into the dish you see here. It tastes fresher and more sophisticated, if not lighter, than most lasagnes and takes the dish to a whole new level. I like to serve it with something crunchy and green, such as a mixed green salad with a light lemony dressing, or the simple green-bean salad overleaf, which can be put together in advance.
The coffee granita for dessert is my cheeky way of doing away with my least favourite part of any evening – having to get up to make teas and coffees just when you are at your most relaxed…
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
This lasagne might read like quite an enterprise, but really it needs close to no hands-on cooking. The meat doesn't even need browning, and using crème fraîche instead of making a bechamel makes it even easier.
For the meat sauce
2 carrots, sliced
2 onions, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs rosemary
1kg pork shoulder on the bone
250ml dry white wine
250ml good-quality chicken stock
200ml tinned chopped tomatoes
Pared zest ½ orange
For the lasagne
Oil for greasing
350g fresh lasagne sheets
200ml tub crème fraîche, thinned with 1 tbsp water
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
125g mozzarella, torn
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Place the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, chilli and herbs in a large casserole dish. Season the pork with sea salt and black pepper. Add to the dish and turn to coat in the pan juices. Pour in the wine, boil for 2 minutes then add the stock, chopped tomatoes and orange zest. Bring to the boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Braise for 3 hours, or until meltingly tender.
Remove the pork from the sauce using a slotted spoon, leave to cool for a few minutes then shred the meat from the bone k using a fork. Stir the shredded meat into the sauce and discard the bones. Season to taste.
For the lasagne, increase the oven temperature to 200C/ 400F/Gas6. Grease a large ovenproof dish with olive oil. Line with a layer of lasagne, top with a third of the meat sauce, then a quarter of the crème fraîche and 1 tbsp of Parmesan, and repeat the layers twice. Finish with a layer of lasagne sheets, topped with mozzarella, crème fraîche and 1 tbsp of Parmesan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden.
Fresh and healthy: Green-bean gremolata salad (Kristen Perers)
Green-bean gremolata salad
Gremolata – the simple combination of lemon zest, parsley and garlic – is one of my favourite dressings. It's hard to think of a vegetable it doesn't complement and I also love to stir it into stews just before serving.
Large handful flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Grated zest 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
400g green beans, trimmed
Put the parsley, lemon zest, garlic and oil in a large serving bowl and stir well to combine. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and tip in the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, or until just cooked but still with crunch. Drain and toss into the dressing while still warm. Season with salt to taste and set aside. Serve at room temperature.
Caffeine on ice: Espresso granita (Kristen Perers)
Make sure you keep servings small or the caffeine will have you bouncing off the walls. Taste the coffee after adding the sugar and adjust the sweetness to your taste. It should taste sweeter than you would drink it, as the sweetness will mellow once frozen.
750ml freshly made espresso or strong coffee
100g demerara sugar
Whipped cream, to serve
Coffee beans, chopped, to serve
Sweeten the hot coffee with the demerara sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Freeze for about 2 hours, or until it is solid around the edge and slushy in the middle. Use a fork to stir the outside crystals into the centre. Return to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.
Remove and repeat the stirring process, continuing to do this every half hour or so until the whole mix is in evenly sized crystals.
Serve the granita in cups, topped with whipped cream and crushed coffee beans.
Food preparation: Marina Filippelli; Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
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