This is literally one of my all-time favourite dishes in the entire world. Takes forever to make, so I tend to only do it on a Sunday when I have plenty of time, or for special occasions. However you can also make up the bolognaise the day before, which will save plenty of time if you want to impress your friends during a mid-week dinner party…
My mother taught me how to make the cheese sauce, and it’s more guess-work than measuring amounts, so apologies if the amounts given here seem vague…
For some reason, and I don’t know why, I always use a wooden spoon when making cheese sauce. No idea if it makes any difference though.
For the cheese sauce:
Approx 1/2 pint fresh Milk
1/2 block of butter
250g medium/strong cheddar, grated
Thick grain mustard
2 large Aubergines (Eggplants)
Lasagna sheets – I prefer the fresh ones, but you can used dried ones too
2) Slice your aubergines lengthways into slices around 5-10mm thick. Some people like to salt their aubergines first for a while, but I usually don’t bother. Place them on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, and grill in the oven until nice and soft – turning once or twice if needed, and then set them aside.
3) In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter on a low heat, and then slowly add the flour, mixing it well using a wooden spoon, adding the flour until you have a lump of dough in the pan, not completely dry, but slightly sticky or sweaty.
4) Sweat the flour-butter mixture in the pan on a very low heat for a few minutes, and keep mixing it so it doesn’t stick or burn.
5) Start adding in the milk, a little at a time, mixing it thoroughly as you go, so you get a smooth paste. If you add too much milk at once you’re more likely to get lumps. Trust me on that.
6) Keep adding the milk until you have a good cheese sauce consistency – it can be a little on the runny side, as it will thicken up while cooking.
7) Add in about half of the grated cheddar, keeping it on a low heat and stirring continuously to avoid lumps or burning.
8) When the cheese is melted, add a teaspoon of mustard, and some salt and pepper. Taste it, and add more cheese to taste, until you have achieved cheesy sauce perfection. (I love my sauce VERY cheesy, so I use a strong flavoured cheddar and add in LOADS, but not everyone likes things as cheesy as me…). Feel free to make it more mustardy if you like it a bit spicy.
9) When the sauce is done, take off the heat, and get out a large lasagna pan. Layer the bolognaise, lasagna sheets, cheese sauce and aubergines in the pan, ensuring you have enough space for a layer of cheese sauce on the top, then sprinkle it with grated cheddar and/or parmesan on the top.
8) Bake in pre-heated oven (around 180-200 degrees) for about 40mins, or until the cheese on top is lovely and golden.
9) Serve it with garlic bread, and savour every delicious bite…