Unctuous, cream, decadent lasagne would be the perfect midweek family meal ― if it wasn’t so flippin’ complicated to make.
The splitting-prone roux for the cheese sauce. The time-consuming ragu; and then, the assembly of it all. No wonder most of us skip the delicious dinner altogether (or just buy a pre-made version), right?
Well, none other than Mary Berry is here to help us save our supper. She revealed the trick she uses to make whipping up a cheese sauce a breeze (as well as some other surprising time-saving hacks).
Here’s how Mary Berry cheats her lasagne’s white sauce
“I’ve cheated with the white sauce and made a creamy sauce for the filling instead,” the cooking expert and telly legend shared in her recipe. But don’t worry ― she assures us it’s still “creamy and delicious.”
First of all, the Cordon Bleu-trained chef uses chicken rather than mince in her dish. This is used to replace the time-consuming tomato sauce we all know; instead, she gently fries some fast-cooking thighs until golden but not cooked.
Then she adds chilli, garlic, and mushrooms to the pan, and makes a quick cornstarch slurry (with two teaspoons of starch and two tablespoons of water) while they’re sautéing.
She then mixes a combination of parsley and crème fraîche to the chicken pan before lobbing in the cornstarch slurry ― this thickens quickly and becomes a cheese sauce-like layer in a matter of moments, with no risk of splitting.
The further good news is that, unlike with traditional lasagne, you only need to cook one sauce on the hob before assembling the meal. Instead, she dabs uncooked tinned tomatoes combined with a sun-dried tomato paste and herbs in between the layers of her lasagne.
She also shares that “soaking the lasagne sheets in water first ensures they will be cooked and tender.”
What’s the recipe?
You’ll need 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 500g boneless and skinless chicken thighs, half a red chilli, two garlic cloves, 200g of sliced button mushrooms, 200g of spinach, 2 teaspoons of cornflour, and 200g crème fraîche for the chicken mixture.
The tomato mix needs a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, a tablespoon of chopped flat-leaf parsley, 2 teaspoons of sun-dried tomato paste, and a tablespoon of chopped thyme leaves.
Finally, you’ll want six lasagne sheets and 150g of grated Cheddar for the topping.
Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C fan and then get going on the chicken as described above.
Then, combine all the ingredients for the tomato sauce in a bowl and mix well, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Soak your pasta sheets in a shallow bowl for a couple of minutes, then layer a third of your chicken mix with a third of the tomato mix at the base of your dish.
Add the first layer of lasagne sheets, then spoon on a second third of both chicken and tomato mixtures; then, lay down your second and final layer of pasta sheets, and put the final thirds of the chicken and then the tomato mix on the top before adding cheddar cheese.
Cook for 35-40 minutes. So much speedier than a traditional lasagne, right?