Sunday and the small one and I decided to swerve rugby, both of us have colds and are feeling less than sparkly. Off we went to kick up the fallen leaves at Polesden Lacey. Small one has his ‘show and tell’ next week so we took a box and filled it to the brim with all sorts of Autumnal treasures, conkers, chestnuts, poppies, seed heads and much, much more. The sunshine was welcome and we headed for home with the sunroof open, what a treat!
On the way home I was contemplating what we should have for Sunday supper and full of Autumn inspiration we made a little detour for cider and a swede (I know how to have fun!). One of my favourite dishes is pork chops tray baked with apples but not a chop to be found on our detour. However they did have some super free-range pork mince that inspired me to make this gorgeously rich and tasty treat of a supper.
Pork, cider and Autumn veg lasagne
Pork mince, carrots, swede, parsnip bubbling away with cider, rosemary and thyme made for a heady scent in my kitchen. This is a rich dish and makes for a great treat, however there will be enough ragu leftover for at least one more supper once you’ve made your lasagne. The leftover ragu I’ll simmer away with a little tomato passata for the boys to have with spaghetti tonight, who doesn’t love an easy Monday night supper?
Serves: 6/8 with plenty of leftover ragu to freeze or use later in the week
Ingredients – Ragu
1kg pork mince
2 brown onions
3 medium/large carrots
1 large parsnip
3 cloves garlic – sliced
1 organic chicken stock cube
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
4 slices streaky smoked bacon
80g ground almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
200g pasta sheets
250g ricotta cheese
1 large sprig fresh rosemary. 4 sprigs of fresh thyme – remove stalks & 1 bay leaf
Ingredients – White sauce
500ml organic milk
45g plain flour (I use gluten free but that’s personal preference)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
50g parmesan cheese
There are a lot of veggies to dice up for this dish, if the kitchen is your happy place then by all means hand chop them all, however when I’m after speed and ease I’d chop them in my Bamix or food processor.
Peel your veggies. Dice or use the processor to prepare the onion, garlic, carrots, parsnips and swede. Pre-heat your oven to 180 °/375/Gas 5.
Heat your olive oil in a hot, heavy bottomed pan or wok and add your veggie mix (sofrito), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. While your veggies soften diced your bacon and add this to the sofrito. Once this mix has softened and your bacon is no longer translucent add your pork mince, breaking it apart with the back of the spoon to prevent big lumps forming.
The pork mince will need moving around the pan constantly to ensure that it cooks evenly. Once the mince has all changed colour add the leaves of your herbs, the chicken stock cube and dijon mustard.
Once these ingredients are stirred through you can add all of the cider and reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer for 30 mins on a low/medium heat, if you feel it needs more liquid add a 1/4 cup of water at most. Once simmered add your ground almonds, stir through and allow to simmer on a low heat for 10 mins while you make the white sauce.
Place a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter. Once melted add the flour and use a wooden spoon to mix together well. Stir continuously and once combined add the milk a splash at a time until it starts to thicken. Add your spices and stir thoroughly. You may not need all of the milk, it depends on which type of flour you use. Stop adding milk once the consistency is that it will not drip off the back of your wooden spoon. Remove from the heat.
Finely grate the parmesan cheese and stir into the white sauce.
Ladle one third of your ragu into an oven proof dish 20 x 25 approx, spreading it out to an even layer. Add one third of your ricotta cheese dotted on top. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat twice and top with the white sauce.
Bake in the oven for 40 mins or until browned on top and the pasta is soft enough to cut through with ease (cover with foil if the top is browning too fast). Allow to cool for 10 mins, it gets pretty nuclear! Serve with a soft green salad or some steamed tenderstem broccoli.