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Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, mushrooms, pancetta and crushed garlic. Fry, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Add the beef or veal and cook over high heat for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and juices, tomato purée, wine, beef stock, one bay leaf and seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the milk into a saucepan; add a few slices of onion, carrot and celery, the peppercorns and remaining bay leaf. Bring slowly to the boil, then remove from heat, cover and leave to infuse for about 15 minutes.

Make the b?chamel sauce; strain the infused milk into a jug. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon for two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually blend in the milk, stirring after each addition to prevent lumps forming. Bring to the boil slowly and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time until the sauce thickens. Add seasoning to taste.

Brush the inside of a baking tin with butter. Spoon one third of the meat sauce over the base of the dish. Cover this with 4-5 sheets of lasagne and spread over one third of the béchamel. Repeat these layers twice more finishing with the béchamel sauce, which should cover the lasagne completely. Sprinkle grated Parmesan over the top. Stand the dish on a baking sheet.

Bake in the oven at 180°C, gas mark 4, 350°F for about 45 minutes or until the top is well browned and bubbling. Serve straight away garnished with halved green and black olives.

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– Ingredients –

2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, skinned and finely chopped
2oz carrot, peeled and finely chopped 50g
4 oz button mushrooms, wiped and sliced 100g
2 oz pancetta or unsmoked streaky bacon, rinded and finely diced 50g
1 garlic clove, skinned and crushed
1lb lean minced beef or veal 450g
12 oz fresh tomatoes, skinned, seeded and sieved 350g
1tbsp tomato purée
1/2cup dry white wine 1/4pt/140ml
1/2cup beef stock 1/4pt/140ml
2 bay leaves
salt & freshly ground pepper
3cups milk 1 1/2pt/900ml
slices of onion, carrot and celery
6 peppercorns
4 oz butter 100g
3 oz plain flour 75g
12-15 sheets oven-ready lasagne
2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese 50g

– Author –

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