Monday, 12 August 2013

La Besciamella all'olio

Besciamella (white sauce) is the base to many dishes. You will need it to make lasagne, souffles and sformati. It is easy to make and very quick!This version is made with olive oil rather than butter. You can also try to use soya or almond milk to create a fully dairy free white sauce!

50g white flour
Approximately 2 spoons of Olive Oil
500ml milk
¼ tsp nutmeg, grated


To make the béchamel sauce, put the flour in a cup and add the oil, a little at a time, until you will have obtained a fairly runny paste. Pour the paste in a pan and gradually add the milk, stirring to incorporate each addition before adding the next: this should avoid lumps Add a pinch of salt and then place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat, add the nutmeg and stir for 5 minutes then set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

TIP: should you have lumps in themixture, whiz it briefly before cooking it!

Game Lasagne


It goes without saying that the first recipe on this blog ought too be my most "famous" an beloved one: the Game Lasagne!

Here below you will find the recipe as it has been published on the ITV website and on the Food Glorious Food book. It is my intention to post snippets of the various steps and who knows! I might even adventure into video one day!!

I hope you will find the time to try this recipe out: it takes quite a while, although you can save lots of time if you get your butcher to roughly mince the game for you. If you are after a super-quick solution, then just try my ready made game ragus.

The orignal recipe had grouse in it - grouse has a wonderfully strong and peculiar taste, so if you decide to add it, do so in small quantities or it will overtake everything else...happy cooking!


Makes: 8 individual lasagnes


For the ragu:
600g mixed game (e.g. venison, hare, pigeon, wild duck), cleaned, trimmed of all fat and sinew and finely diced
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
1 x thyme sprig
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 x onion, finely chopped
2 x carrots, finely chopped
1 x celery stick, finely chopped
150g filed mushrooms, finely sliced (optional)
2 x dried red bird’s eye chillies (or to taste), broken in half
125ml red wine
2 x 400g tins peeled plum tomatoes
2 x vegetable stock cubes
1 tsp sugar

For the béchamel:
70g butter
70g white flour
700ml milk
¼ tsp nutmeg, grated

For the pasta:
420g “00” flour
Pinch salt
4 x eggs
1 tbsp water
Semolina flour, for dusting
2 tbsp vegetable oil

To assemble:
100g Pecorino semistagionato, or crumbly Swaledale cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
8 x 200ml ramekins


Place the meat in a non-metallic bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, a clove of garlic, the thyme and balsamic vinegar and mix well. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate overnight.
Put 4 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan with the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms (if using), chilli and remaining garlic. Cover and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the contents have softened. Once the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pan, set aside.
Remove the garlic and thyme from the marinated meat and discard. In another pan, heat the remaining oil over a high heat, add the meat and cook, covered for 30-60 seconds. At this stage, the game usually releases water – as soon as this happens, drain the water and juices away. This will take the “gamey” edge off a little. You may need to repeat this procedure a few times until the meat is very dry. Season to taste and keep stirring.

Once the meat starts to stick to the pan, add the cooked vegetables and wine and stir again. Now add the tomatoes and crumble in the stock cubes, lower the heat and stir well until the cubes have dissolved. Cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. At the end of the process, the sauce should be neither too stiff nor too runny. Add water or cook for slightly longer, uncovered, to achieve the right consistency.

Meanwhile make the pasta. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs. Slowly mix the eggs into the flour using your fingertips, until all the flour has been incorporated. Add a little water if the mixture is too hard, or a little semolina flour if too soft. On a work surface lightly dusted with semolina flour (if necessary), knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Take off the heat and stir in the flour a little at a time until you have a thick paste. Gradually add the milk, stirring to incorporate each addition before adding the next. Add a pinch of salt and the nutmeg, and then place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir for 5 minutes then set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.

Dust a work surface with semolina flour and roll out the pasta dough into a sheet about 1mm thick. Using a pastry cutter or one of your ramekins, stamp out 24 circles of pasta.
Spoon a layer of the game sauce, about 1cm deep, into each ramekin. Place a disc of pasta over the sauce in each ramekin. Spoon another layer of game sauce on top, then cover with béchamel. Repeat these layers (pasta, meat sauce, béchamel) at least twice more, finishing with plenty of béchamel.
Sprinkle the pecorino on top of the dishes and place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has browned. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving… Enjoy!