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How I wish I had taken more time on this photo. It’s terrible in every way, and doesn’t nearly express the true beauty of this dish. You see, this is not your regular lasagne. This is lasagna laced with chocolate and cinnamon making it silky, sexier and more luxurious than your normal run-of-the-mill variety.

Not that adding chocolate to savoury mince is anything new. I first tried chocolate with my pasta at Fred’s in NYC years ago. It was combined with unsalted butter, sage and veal; so exquisitely delicious I swear the building shook.  The practice of adding chocolate to meat is a sweet signature of  Sicilian cooking and has been since the Spanish dominion brought the ingredient to Modica, Sicily at the end of the 16th century. Since then, the Modicans have thrown dark chocolate around with abandon, adding it to everything from rabbit ragùs and mince pastries to said pasta.

I adapted this particular recipe from Feast magazine. It’s by no means a whiz to whip up, it took a good two hours, but with a little red wine, music, dogs lying at my feet and my son chop, chop, chopping away, it was relaxing, therapeutic and made my house smell like a Sicilian Baglio – from the rich scent of cinnamon muddled with garlic and red wine to the distinctly earthy scent of really good dark chocolate.

We almost demolished the lot, but being the holidays, saved a little decadence for a certain Bunny; because at this time of year, there is no such thing as too much chocolate.

Happy Easter everyone x

Sicilian Chocolate Lasagne 

(serves 6, adapted from Feast Magazine)

Ingredients

Ragù

  • A glug of olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of basil, chopped
  • 800g veal mince
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 700 ml passata
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 60g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces (70% cocoa solids)
  • 8 fresh lasagne sheets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the Béchamel sauce
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1.2L full-fat milk
  • 150g Mozzarella
  • 50g Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Method
  • Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add onion, carrot and celery and cook stirring for about 10 minutes or until soft. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add veal and pork and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until browned all over. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add red wine and simmer for 8 minutes or until almost completely reduced. Have a glass yourself.  Add beef stock, bay leaves, passata, cinnamon and basil. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1.5 hours or until thickened and reduced. Stir though chopped chocolate and season. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To make béchamel sauce, place milk and bay leaf in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Melt butter in a seperate saucepan over medium-low heat then add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes (this will ensure the flavour of the flour is removed). remove bay leaves and discard. Working in  batches add milk to flour mixture stirring constantly until smooth and creamy. Once all milk has been added, simmer gently of r5 minutes, then stir through both cheeses. Season. 
  • Preheat oven to 170C. spoon a little of the ragù in a deep ovenproof dish. Add a layer of pasta, trimming to fit then spread over some the béchamel, then more ragù. Continue lathering finishing with a  layer of béchamel. Scatter 100g mozzarella over the top then bake for 50 minutes or until golden and bubbling. 
  • Serve with a simple green salad, copious red wine and gloat a little. You ARE a goddess! 
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