rabbit ragù lasagne

serves 6-8. hands-on time 1 hour 10 min, oven time 35-40 min

Make Ahead: Assemble the lasagne, cover and chill for 24 hours, or freeze for 1 month wrapped in cling film and foil. Bake from frozen for 1 hour.

250g fresh lasagne sheets

for the ragù
olive oil for frying
100g smoked bacon lardons
1 onion, finely sliced
3 carrots, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g rabbit mince (ask your butcher; or use mixed game, beef mince or turkey thigh mince)
200ml red wine
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato purée
150ml whole milk
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
small bunch fresh basil, leaves picked

for the béchamel
850ml whole milk
6 cloves
2 mace blades
2 bay leaves
60g unsalted butter
60g plain flour
80g grana padano cheese, grated
pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium-high heat, then fry the lardons for 2-3 minutes until crisp. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

2 Put the onion, carrots and celery in the same frying pan with a pinch of salt and pepper, then fry gently for 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the rabbit mince and brown for 4-5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the wine and bubble for 5 minutes, then stir in the Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée, milk and chopped tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over a tow-medium heat until thickened. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, then stir in the lardons, oregano and most of the basil.

3 For the béchamel sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan and add the cloves, mace and bay leaves. Gently heat until the milk is teaming. Turn off the heat, strain the milk and set aside (discard flavourings).

4 Melt the butter in a medium heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes until it starts to smell biscuitty. Slowly whisk in the warm milk, then cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in 20g of the grana padano and the grated nutmeg, then season well with salt and pepper. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

5 To assemble, spread a little ragu over the base of a 2 litre baking dish, then cover with slightly overlapping lasagne sheets. Pour over a third of the béchamel, sprinkle with a little grana padano and top with half the ragu. Cover with another layer of lasagne, half the remaining béchamel, then the rest of the ragu. Add the final layer of pasta, then the rest of the béchamel and grana padano. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden. Serve garnished with the remaining basil.

per serving (for 81 502kcals, 22.9g fat (1.9g saturated), 32.9g protein, 34.5g carbs (11.5g sugars), 0.8g salt, 3.8g fibre

WINE EDITOR'S CHOICE Take your pick from any cherryish, juicy Italian red such as barbera, dolcetto or valpolicella.