Ingredients for 6 people: For the ragu:500 g minced beef (only minced once in order to have a “chunkier” ragu)5 fresh sausages (approx. 500 g)1 carrot1 stalk of celery1 onion1 sprig of parsley2 jars peeled tomatoes (500 g each)1 glass red wine12 tbsp extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper *** For the “filling”:3 “fiordilatte” mozzarellas (approx. 350 g) 80 g grated pecorino cheese *** For the béchamel sauce: 100 g butter1 l milk100 g plain flour1 tsp grated nutmeg salt *** For the pasta dough:3 eggs300 g plain flour1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 2 tbsp to add to the water the lasagne sheets are cooked in) salt
First prepare the vegetables for the ragu: wash, clean and finely chop the celery, carrot, onion and parsley leaves, using a large knife. Sauté them in a pan with the olive oil, over a low heat, for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom. In the meanwhile, skin the sausages and mix them with the minced beef. Tip all the meat into the pan with the vegetables, which in the meantime will have started to brown (they mustn’t burn!), turn up the heat and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, stir again and turn the heat down. The ragu must cook slowly for a long time, but always keep an eye on it and stir every now and again.
While it’s cooking, prepare the pasta: put the flour on a pastry board or your kitchen work surface, heap it up a create a “well” in the centre; break the 3 eggs into it, and add a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Start mixing slowly with a fork, and then use your hands until the dough forms a smooth, compact ball. Roll it out into a thin sheet (roughly 2 mm thick) with a rolling pin; use a few handfuls of flour to make sure that it doesn't stick to the surface and try to give it an oval shape. If you don’t have much room, divide the dough in half and roll each piece out separately (try to roll it out as thinly as possible). Leave the pasta to dry on a lightly floured tea towel.
Now prepare the béchamel sauce: put the butter in a small (heavy-bottomed) pan over a low heat. As soon as it has melted, add the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes with a wooden spoon, without letting the mixture brown. In the meanwhile, bring the milk to the boil. Pour a small amount of boiling milk into the saucepan and mix thoroughly; gradually add all the milk, stirring constantly. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, over a very low heat, taking care that the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat off and season with salt and nutmeg. Put the béchamel to one side and, to avoid a “skin” forming on top, cover the surface with cling film
Now go back to the pasta: cut it into rectangles of about 12 x 24 cm (naturally this is only an approximate size). and lay them on a chopping board. They can even overlap them if you wish, but sprinkle a little flour between them so they don’t stick together. Put a large saucepan full of water on the stove: when it comes to the boil, add a good pinch of coarse salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fill a large bowl, or a casserole dish, with cold water and place it as close as possible to the stove.
Take one piece of lasagna at a time and put it into the boiling water vertically: drop it in slowly and then continue with the others, but without overfilling the saucepan (if necessary cook them in two or three batches). They will cook very quickly, after a minute or two use a perforated spoon to remove them from the pan. Put them straight into the cold water in the bowl and spread them out with your hands, then lay them out one beside the other on a cotton cloth. In the meanwhile, continue to cheek on the ragu: when it’s been cooking for about 40 minutes, turn up the heat and pour in the wine. When it has evaporated, tip in the peeled tomatoes, stir well, taste and add salt if necessary; then leave to simmer over a very low heat for about another hour. Now you’ve nearly finished…don’t loose heart – the result will be well worth it! Tip half of the grated pecorino into the béchamel sauce, stir well and then add the ragu: here in Tuscany, we don’t traditionally mix the béchamel and the meat ragu, but Antonio Lo Franco’s wife Sabina learnt from her grandma Tina, who came from Calabria and was a great cook, and we’re willing to follow her advice!
So add one ladle of ragu at a time and stir thoroughly. Cut the mozzarellas (this is another touch from the south of Italy) into slices. Pour a little of the ragu and béchamel into the bottom of a baking tin (28 x 35 cm) and spread it out well; cover it with the first layer of lasagna sheets, arranging them one beside the other and covering the entire surface. Pour a generous amount of the sauce on top and spread it out well again. Now break up about 1/3 of the slices of mozzarella by hand, dot pieces here and there, and cover with a second layer of pasta… carry on in the same way until you have finished the ingredients. Finish off with a layer of sauce, sprinkle the rest of the pecorino on top and add a few pieces of mozzarella. Then bake in a preheated oven, at 200 °C, for 35-40 minutes. The lasagne will be ready when a nice golden “crust” has formed on the surface. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little before serving. The dish will be a great success!