Jose Souto’s twist on a classic recipe provides a delicious and accessible way to cook with venison.

Lasagne is an Italian classic normally made with beef mince but venison mince is a great alternative, as it is low in fat and full of flavour. My wife Charlotte loves this recipe and I often make it at home to freeze and eat at a later date.

Ingredients

1kg venison mince

1 onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

2 tsp tomato purée

1 sprig thyme

1 tsp chopped oregano

1 bay leaf

Light olive oil

50g plain flour

2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes

1 litre venison stock or dark chicken stock

400g fresh or dried pasta sheets

Cheese Sauce

500ml milk

50g butter

½ onion

1 bay leaf

2 cloves

50g plain flour

25g parmesan, grated

50g cheddar cheese, grated

Method

In a saucepan add the milk, ½ onion, bay leaf and cloves. Bring to the boil then turn off and keep warm. In a separate pan, bring the stock to the boil and keep warm.

Place a little oil in a large saucepan. When hot, fry half the mince until cooked then remove from the pan. Add some more oil to the pan, reheat and fry the rest of the meat and again remove from pan.

In the same pan now cook the onion and garlic in a little oil without colour. After 5 minutes add the carrot and celery, fry, then add the meat. Stir well, then add tomato purée, herbs and cook for 4 minutes. Then add flour, stir well, add tinned tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the hot stock and bring to the boil.

Cook on a gentle heat for at least an hour and a half. If it becomes too thick, add some more stock. Correct the seasoning and allow to cool before using.

To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan, add flour and mix to form a roux. Cook for about 2 min then pull off heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the onion, bay leaf and cloves from the milk then place the roux back on to the stove. Stir a third of the milk into the roux, mixing well until smooth. Then add another third, again stirring until smooth. Repeat with the final third of milk.  Turn the heat down and allow to cook for 30 minutes, then add half of the cheddar cheese and all the parmesan to the sauce, stir well then allow to cool.

Once the meat and cheese sauce have cooled down, take a deep oven dish and start by spooning a little of the cheese sauce onto the dish, then place a layer of the pasta sheets onto the sauce. Now add a layer meat sauce to coat the pasta then cover with more pasta and then sauce. Continue this layering until you are 1cm under the lip of the dish, finish with layer of cheese sauce and sprinkle the last of the cheddar cheese on top.

Pre-heat oven at 180°C then place the lasagne onto a baking tray to catch any drips and cook for 1 hour, checking that the centre is cooked and hot.

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