Ok, picture this……4am, all is dark and quiet and my husband is snoring softly beside me. I am awake but dreaming of tender, stringy chunks of pulled pork shoulder, slow cooked for 8 hours in a simple tomato sauce infused with pancetta and the gorgeous, subtle fragrance of fresh sage from the herb garden (it is already sounding amazing in my head). I then imagined it layered between sheets of fresh lasagne and creamy bechamel, topped with cheese and baked in the oven until golden and bubbling. It was a beautiful moment, made even more beautiful when it was brought to life. Only one word will suffice. Sublime.
The absolute beauty of this dish (apart from the flavour) is that you can bung it in the slow cooker before work and when you get home all that is required is to pull the pork apart, make a bechamel and assemble the lasagne. The other masterstroke is it makes enough for 8 and is suitable to freeze, so if you are a family of 4 you have two meals. Win. Win. Win.
Prep time: 40 Minutes Cooking time: 9 Hours $ Low Budget
Olive oil for frying
2kg piece of boned pork shoulder, skin and as much fat removed as you like
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely diced
8 slices of round pancetta, diced
12 sage leaves, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup of dry white wine
700ml bottle of tomato passata
2 tbs of tomato paste
2 tsp of sugar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 1/2 packets of Latina fresh lasagne sheets (freeze the leftover in a ziplock bag for next time)
1 cup of grated mozzarella
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan
A sprinkle of sweet paprika for the top
A crisp green salad to serve
For the Bechamel:
80gm of butter
1/2 a cup of plain flour
4 cups of milk
1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg (fresh is best but dried will do)
1/2 a cup of freshly grated parmesan
Sea salt and black pepper
Heat a large heavy based fry pan and add the pancetta. Allow it to fry for a few minutes until the fat has rendered out and it is nice and golden. Add a little olive oil if needed and fry the onions with the pancetta until the onions are soft. Add the garlic, lemon rind and sage leaves and fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds) before pouring in the lemon juice and wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all the delicious flavour from the bottom of the pan and allow the liquid to reduce by about half. Once reduced, pour in the passata, add the tomato paste, bay leaves and sugar, season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer before placing the pork in the slow cooker and pouring the sauce over the top. Cover the pork with a piece of baking paper, tucking it in nice and snug and place the lid on. Turn the slow cooker to low and leave for 8 hours. If you would like to speed up the process cook on high for 6 hours.
To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan. While the butter is melting, season with salt and pepper and add the grated nutmeg. Once the butter is melted and bubbling, sprinkle over the flour. Mix well with a whisk and allow the mixture to cook for a minute or two, before adding the milk a little at a time and continuing to whisk. The mixture will thicken very quickly so keep whisking to avoid lumps. When all the milk is added to the mixture, allow it to come up to a simmer before adding the parmesan. Stir right into the corner of the pan until the cheese has melted and set aside.
To pull the pork apart, remove the pork (leaving the sauce behind) from the slow cooker and place it in a shallow baking dish. Use a couple of forks to pull the pork apart into nice mouth manageable chunks so that it is lovely and stringy. It should literally fall apart. Once shredded, return the pork to the sauce in the slow cooker and stir well to combine.
Pre heat the oven to 180°. To assemble the lasagne, coat the bottom of a large lasagne dish with a little olive oil. Lay the lasagne sheets on the bottom in a single layer (I cut my sheets to fit so there are no gaps) and top with a third of the pork mixture, spread out evenly. Top with more lasagne sheets and spread over a third of the bechamel. Top with lasagne and repeat the process two more times so the top layer is bechamel. Sprinkle over the cheeses and a light smattering of paprika and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Remove the lasagne from the oven and allow it to rest for approximately 5-10 minutes (cover with a piece of foil if you wish). Allowing it to rest makes it a lot easier to serve. Divide the lasagne into 8 generous portions and serve with a crisp green salad. When you have finished, pop on the website and tell me what you think! I rated it pretty highly but would love to hear from you!
You can also do the pork in the oven, same process but in a casserole dish with a tight fitting lid. Pop the oven on about 150°C a cook for 41/2-5 hours, stirring and turning the pork periodically. The pork is ready when it literally falls apart.