My Really Wild Lasagne
My really wild lasagne is truly wild with rabbit and with mushroom and chestnut flavours we associate with the cooler months of the year. It is rich and hearty, yet not a dumb palate and I think worth the trouble to make it from scratch using a handmade pasta with chestnut flour. Use a wild rabbit and mushrooms, such as slippery jacks, to give it a good earthy flavor. If you’re not the hunter-gatherer type you should be able to pick up a wild rabbit at the market or your butcher and slippery jacks are available at farmers markets now. A mix of fresh shiitaki and chestnut mushrooms make a not unreasonable substitute if you don’t secure any wild mushrooms. I also add a little truffle salt to the béchamel to add a bit more earthiness. You will need to carefully clean the slippery jacks with a damp paper towel, easing off the bits of grass that tend to stick to the caps.
Lasagne is complicated to make there is no doubt about it but if you are a little bit organised and prepare the rabbit ragu ahead of time, even the day before, it should ease the work load a bit. And yes, you could buy pasta sheets but then lasagne made with fresh pasta is so much lighter in texture and you won’t find premade chestnut pasta in any case.
- 1 medium sized rabbit
- 6-8 medium to large slippery jack mushrooms
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 medium onions
- 1 leek
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 parsley stalks
- 3 black pepper corns
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tomatoes (skinned and diced)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 100g butter
- 90 g plain flour
- 800 ml milk
- pinch of salt or truffle salt
Chestnut Flour Pasta
- 150g durum wheat flour
- 150 g chestnut flour
- 3 eggs
- 2 tbs water approximately
1 egg and 100 g grated Parmesan cheese for the top of assembled lasagne
To Make The Ragu remove the meat from the legs and back of the rabbit and cut into small pieces and set aside. Make a quick stock with the carcass using one each of the carrots and onions and the green top of the leek, a bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid, discarding the vegetables and reduce the stock.
Soak the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, halve, remove the skins and squeeze each half to remove seeds and excess liquid. Chop the tomatoes roughly.
Dice the remaining onion and carrot. Slice the leek finely. Sauté the vegetables in olive oil with salt. Add the rabbit meat and cook until the red rawness is lost. Add tomato paste and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and enough of the reduced stock to barely cover the meat. Simmer slowly for 1-2 hours. Season with ground pepper and salt.
To Make The Pasta combine the flours, making a well in the centre of the flour on the kitchen bench. Add the egg and water to the well and beat with a fork to break up the eggs and gradually incorporate them with the flour. Knead for 15 minutes (it should be quite a firm dough), wrap with cling film and rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Meanwhile, clean the slippery jacks and cut into small cubes and add to the ragu.
To Make Béchamel Sauce melt 100 g butter in a saucepan and the flour stirring so it absorbs the melted butter and cook the roux for a few minutes. Add milk a little at a time and incorporate quickly using a whisk. Add the salt and cook the sauce on a low heat for 5 minutes until thickened.
To Assemble The Lasagne you will require a square ceramic lasagne dish, 20cm x 20cm x 6cm or something of similar dimensions.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces, forming each into a neat rectangular shape to feed into the pasta machine. Knead each piece before forming the sheets by running it through the machine at setting 1 three times, folding the rolled piece into three before feeding it through the machine again. Now start rolling out the sheets starting at level 1 and working thorough each setting up to level 6 on the pasta machine. Dust the pasta sheets with semolina it stop any sticking.
Do not precook the fresh pasta sheets but you may need to loosen the ragu with a little water or left over stock to keep the layers sufficiently moist for the pasta to cook evenly in the oven.
Add a couple of tablespoons of ragu to sparsely cover the bottom of dish. Cover with a layer of uncooked pasta. You can use scissors to trim the pasta to fit. Add another layer of ragu (approx 2 spoons) and 2 tablespoons of béchamel. Continue until you have 4 layers of past, a making sure you keep back enough béchamel to be able to cover the top layer of pasta completely. Beat in one whole egg to the last lot of béchamel to give the lasagna a good colour once baked. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 40 min at 160°C.