Gordon Ramsay’s Lasagne al Forno

Gordon Ramsay’s Lasagne al Forno

Serves: 4 – 6

Innovation when it comes to lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and the like, is neither wide, nor particularly wanted.

We crave these pastas because we know these pastas; and thankfully, adding a twist with the addition of milk, or anchovies or diced bacon, doesn’t really screw with the formulae or take them too far away from what we crave.

Having already typed up a lasagne – and certainly having cooked plenty of other variations in the past – I was unsure of whether I should type this one up.

Not because it isn’t amazing because it is.

Though for all the other reasons. Anchovies and bacon, cream and ricotta, a good lasagne is all you asked for and so how many nip-tuck variations do you really need?

You need to try this one.

Sure, it’s ultimately just a lasagne, though I type it up for two reasons.

Firstly – as I said – it really is very good. And secondly, to get you to cook lasagne, something we just don’t cook enough of.

Cook what the people want and they want this lasagne.

Ingredients

2 tbsp oilive oil
½ large onion, grated
1 large carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pinches, dried oregano
500gm minced beef
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp red wine
400gm can tomatoes
50ml milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the sauce

25gm butter
25gm flour
300ml milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
60gm Cheddar cheese, grated
30gm Parmesan cheese, grated

6 sheets, lasagne sheets

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over a medium-high heat; cook the onion, carrot and garlic, adding the bay leaf, a pinch of oregano, the Worcestershire sauce and a little salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is softened.
  3. Add the mince and break up; add the tomato puree and cook, stirring, until the meat is browned.
  4. Add the wine and cook of the alcohol before adding the tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes. Add the milk and set aside from the heat.
  5. Cheese Sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Ad the flour and using a wooden spoon, stir to form a paste. Over a gentle heat, add a third of the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps forming. Add the rest of the milk slowly, whisking as you go. Season with salt and pepper and a ground of nutmeg. Allow the sauce to cook out for a minute or so and add the Cheddar cheese. Stir and remove from the heat.
  6. Spoon half the meat sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and place pasta sheets on top. Pour in half the cheese sauce and spread evenly. And then more meat and pasta sheets and cheese… you know how to layer a lasagna.
  7. Finish with grated Parmesan and sprinkle with another pinch of oregano; lightly season.
  8. In the oven, 20 – 30 minutes until golden.

Gordon Ramsay’s Slow Braised Beef Cheeks (Ragu) with Pappardelle

Serves 6

Credit where credit is due.

This is an amazing dish; an amazing braise. And I didn’t even cook it.

Nat did. For my 36th birthday.

A good ragu is about the length of the cooking time and this is where Nat nailed it. Six hours in, there was a ripple of fear that the beef cheeks hadn’t broken down, still solid and in one piece each; two hours later and a light tap, and they collapsed into moorish, unbelievably tender meat.

And why not keep cooking on a low heat, right up until dinner? Which is what we did. Time is your friend and beef cheeks love to sit and braise away.

During my childhood and teen years, my mother cooked Pork in Milk for my every birthday; it was my annual request and 20 or more years on, I can still taste it.

This ragu has now replaced my annual pork offering and I can’t wait to cook it – or have it cooked for me – again and again and again.

Ingredients

Olive oil, for frying
1kg of beef cheeks (in this instance, don’t substitute another cut of beef; or try lamb shanks if that is all you can get)
1 onion, peeled and roughly cut
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly crushed
1 bay leaf (or two dried if you can’t get fresh)
400ml red wine (you can safely use a bit more here)
1x 400gm tin chopped tomatoes
500ml beef stock
500gm dried pappardelle
Handful of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan; season the meat and brown on all sides. Set aside.
  2. In the same pan, brown the onions, garlic and bay leaf until just softened and starting to brown a little.
  3. Return the meat to the pan and add the wine to deglaze.
  4. Allow it to reduce a little and add the stock and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat down.
  5. Stir occasionally for the next four hours, ensuring the meat is not drying out and adding water as need be. The meat is ready when it falls apart; keep cooking as long as you want. Time is your friend!
  6. Cook the pasta in salted water.
  7. Gently stir through the sauce with the pasta and garnish with parsley.
  8. Happy birthday.

Annie Smither’s Chicken Cordon Bleu

Serves: 4

We were in Queenstown, NZ this year for my birthday.

(If you haven’t visited Queenstown, it really does need to be on your bucketlist: some of the best restaurants we have eaten at, great bars, amazing vineyards, incredible drives and apparently skiing if you are so inclined.)

One of the most memorable meals was at a restaurant called Rata by Josh Emmet. A beautiful, contemporary restaurant, engaged service, incredibly good food and $45 (!!) for three courses. We simply couldn’t believe it.

Not complete with running an amazing restaurant or having three Michelin Stars to his name, Josh Emmet is also an accomplished cookbook writer and his book ‘The Recipe.’ would have to be one of the best cookbooks I have ever purchased.

The book is a collection of the world’s classic recipes as cooked by the “world’s best chefs”: Gordon Ramsay, Neil Perry, Ken Hom, Christine Manfield, you name it.

It is one of those cookbooks with such beautiful photography where you can happily spend the afternoon with a bottle of wine with your partner, earmarking all the dishes you’re going to cook and dreaming of the wonderful meals coming up.

(If it wasn’t clear, buy this book!)

So… dish #1 – cooked by my very culinarily-capable wife – was Annie Smither’s Chicken Cordon Bleu.

And it was spectacular. Old school, new school spectacular.

Old school in that ham and cheese in a crumbed chicken breast is a bit our parent’s generation of Saturday night cooking. But wow, it was so good.

New school in that our parent’s didn’t cook it: they cooked it from frozen. Or if they did cook it (which they didn’t), they didn’t cook it like this.

This is honest, wonderful, cooking. On all levels.

Cheese oozing. Ham and mustard. A contemporary breadcrumb.

Make it one of those Sunday nights where you make an outrageous potato gratin. Open a Pinot. Put the kids to bed.

And don’t think of Monday.

Ingredients

A little butter, for greasing
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp chopped fresh chives
4 very thin slices lean cooked leg ham
4 very thin slices Swiss cheese (or grated Gruyère)
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp all-purpose plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup fine, fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp paprika

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c. Grease a baking dish with butter.

Split the chicken breasts horizontally to give two flatter pieces. Place each between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten each chicken breast to a thickness of 5mm.

Spread each chicken breast with 1/2 tsp mustard and sprinkle each with 1 tsp chives. Cut ham and cheese slices to fit the chicken and top each chicken breast with ham and a cheese slice. Roll up, tucking the ends inside.

Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, combine the egg and milk, beating slightly.

Place breadcrumbs in another shallow dish. Coat chicken rolls in turn with flour, then egg mixture, then roll in crumbs. Place in the baking dish and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Homemade Chicken Doner Kebab

Serves: 4

I guess a recipe like this doesn’t need an introduction, especially if it is true: that you can actually create a Chicken Doner Kebab at home.

You can.

And we did.

And it was spectacular.

I found this recipe on Instagram from Recipetineats, probably one of the most consistently positive, beautifully photographed, wonderful to follow food-bloggers out there.

And she is Australian to boot!

It isn’t Gordon Ramsay, though of course it isn’t. It is a Chicken Doner Kebab and so it is so much better.

Key is to marinate the chicken, double skewer the chicken thighs and let them bake above their juices.

I didn’t add tabbouleh which Nat was less than impressed about, though we did have hummus, chilli sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion and cheese and then toasted them in a pan to get the pita bread crunchy. (RecipeTin doesn’t ask for this though in my experience, all Lebanese/Pita breads are better toasted…)

11/10.

This is a Saturday dinner after a long lunch and it seriously nails it. Like any amazing kebab should.

Ingredients

1kg chicken thigh
Olive oil for drizzling
Long metal skewers

Marinade

1 cup plain Green yoghurt
3 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil

For serving: choose your usual favourites!

Lebanese bread/pita bread
Finely sliced iceberg lettuce
Tomato slices
Hummus
Tabbouleh
Red onion slices
Grated cheese
Chilli sauce (Sriracha)

Method

  1. Mix the marinade, add the whole chicken thighs, mix well and marinate in a bowl or a big zip lock bag for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  3. Choose a pan that the metal skewers can sit across allowing the chicken to be elevated off the base of the pan.
  4. Fold the marinated chicken thighs in half and threat onto two skewers lengthways. Repeat, snuggly pushing the thighs against each other.
  5. You should fit 5 thighs this way; so repeat again with 2 more skewers and 5 more thighs so you end with 2 stacks of skewered chicken thighs.
  6. Prop each of the 2 skewers on the edges of the pan. Drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes or until charred.
  8. Remove, spoon the juices over the chicken, turn the chicken over, drizzle with olive oil and bake for another 30 minutes.
  9. Remove, baste once more and set aside for 5 minutes.
  10. To carve, stand the skewers upright and slice the meat thinly.
  11. The rest will be obvious: hummus and chilli on the Lebanese bread, chicken, tomato, lettuce, red onion, cheese, whatever: fold the bottom up, left and right and make a wrap.
  12. Toast in a hot pan.
  13. And call us over for dinner!

Basic Hollandaise Sauce

Serves: 4 – 6

I believe that Hollandaise Sauce is one of those staples that Gordon Ramsay demands you cook for him in Kitchen Nightmares (which of course you can’t) before he rubbishes your grubby restaurant and then rebuilds it by simplifying your menu, throwing out all your furniture and putting a sign out front.

So best you know this simple and classic version then, kindly supplied (though not cooked) by my father.

My mother bemoans that she fast-tracks this sauce by using a food processor though I don’t know what she is talking about. I doubt Gordon would either and not before he threw a chair at you.

Get the water-bath going and do it right.

(And have an ice-cube ready if the sauce splits; just whisk it in a voila!)

Ingredients

4 large egg yolks
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
170gm (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of cayenne
Sea salt

Method

  1. Position a large heatproof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  2. In the bowl, whisk the yolks, lemon juice, and mustard until well combined.
  3. Gradually whisk in the butter in a thin stream and keep whisking until the sauce is thick enough for the whisk to leave tracks that hold for a couple of seconds, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the cayenne and season to taste with salt.
  5. Keep the sauce warm in its bowl set over the simmering water, whisking occasionally, until ready to use.

Neil Perry’s Wagyu Bolognese

 

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Best served to Captains of Industries.

Serves: 4 Kings and Queens

This is undeniably the Bentley of Bolognese.

It is simply magnificent. Like only Rockpool Bar & Grill could do.

I found the very best meat I could, I more than doubled parts of the cooking time and I found an amazing, thick Italian fettuccine to serve it with.

It is worth every second and cent you can throw at it. And when you reveal to your stunned guests that they’ve just silently eaten boring old spag bol, people will think you’re some of undiscovered Gordon Ramsay and immediately demand you sign up for Masterchef.

If only they knew all you had to do was spend half your night in the kitchen the day before prepping and cooking.

I have slightly adapted this as I did it. And don’t cut any corners. Finely chop everything, skin and deseed those tomatoes. Caremalise the veges on the lowest heat for as long as you can.

Ingredients

600gm minced ground Wagyu (I used Wagyu blade steak ground very coarsely)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
100gm speck, finely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400ml full bodies red wine
1.2kg vine ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, diced
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
500gm fettuccine 

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and speck, season to taste with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or more, until the vegetables have caremalised but are not burnt.
  3. Add the minced Wagyu, season with salt and cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon, for 5 minutes or until the beef is well browned. This will take much longer in practice as the liquid exits the beef; you’re done with the beef is browning or capable of browning and the juices have burnt off.
  4. Add the wine and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
  5. Add the tomato and simmer for about 45 minutes or until thickened. Add the thyme, check the seasoning.
  6. Combine the sauce with the cooked fettuccini.

Serve with 1 very small handful flat-leaf parsley, chiffonade, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated parmesan.

Apple and Cinnamon Galette

Serves: 8

I can’t remember screwing up a dessert and so I don’t know why I don’t do them more.

(Of course, it’s possible that desserts always work no matter what, because butter, sugar, cream, chocolate in any combination and baked any which way are going to be fine!)

When I do cook dessert, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing the dessert early in the morning when I’m fresh and have plenty of time for the entrée and main.

Otherwise, if I did the dessert last, I’d probably never get to it in lieu of getting the meat and vegetables right.

What I have resolved about desserts is that simple desserts can work just as well as sophisticated desserts: whilst I’d love to make a vanilla bean mascarpone ice cream every time to accompany said 17 types of chocolate Gordon Ramsay dessert, a simple tart with some pouring cream is still bloody good.

This particular dessert is very simple and while you probably wouldn’t see it in Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, you might find it in my bistro if I had one.

Try it. You’ll be very happy you did.

Ingredients

120g digestive biscuits (Milk Arrowroot etc)
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs plain flour
190g caster sugar
1kg small, sweet apples (I used Fuji, though Pink Lady or Gala would be fine)
40g unsalted butter, melted, cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
Icing Sugar to dust
Pure (thin) cream to serve

Shortcut Pastry

1 ½ cups plain flour
125g chilled, unsalted butter, chopped

Method

  1. For the shortcut pasty, place the flour and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor and whiz together. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. With the food processor running, pour 3 tablespoons iced water in through the feed tube and process until the dough forms a ball around the blade.
  2. Tip the dough onto a board and shape into a ball. Flatten the dough into a disc and tightly enclose tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 50 minutes until dough is firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200c and line a pizza tray or baking tray with baking paper.
  4. In a food processor, whiz the biscuits to fine crumbs with the cinnamon, flour and 1 ½ tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
  5. Peel, halve and core the apples. Slice very thinly into half moons, ideally with a mandolin.
  6. Melt the butter in a large frypan over a medium-low heat. Ad 2/3 cup sugar (150g) and stir to combine. Add the apple and vanilla and cook for 2-3 minutes until the apple is coated and slightly softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pan.
  7. On a floured board, roll out the pastry into a round, 2-3mm, 28cm ring (or to fit tray); it should be 5cm longer than the end of the pizza tray (or baking tray) so that the pastry can be overlapped a small way back over the apple.
  8. Press the dough into the corners of the tray. Spread the biscuit mixture evenly over the base.
  9. Pile the apple mixture evenly over the biscuit mixture including any juices. Gently fold the overhanging dough over fruit. Sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons over the pastry rim.
  10. Bake for 35 – 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
  11. Leave to cool for 40 minutes and transfer to serving plate. Sift and dust lightly with icing sugar.