THIS week amateur cook Charlotte Seddon is sharing her recipe for ‘crisis’ lasagne.

Charlotte, who reached the semi-finals of the 2020 MasterChef series says the dish takes two and a half hours to prepare, plus at least six hours resting, and 45 minutes cooking time.

Charlotte, of Shotton, explains: “This is my go-to dish when any of my friends or family are going through some kind of emergency, crisis or drama and cooking is going to be the last thing on their mind. My sister in law went into labour and my instant reaction at 4am was wake up and start making them a lasagne so that they didn’t have to cook when they came out of hospital. Once made it is best left overnight to allow the pasta sheets to soften up. It can also be frozen and brought out when needed. For this reason, I tend to like making a batch of them.

"This is more of a winter dish but the rain has set in this week, so I needed cheering up!”


For the ragu:

1kg mince steak

2 onions

2 sticks celery

4 garlic cloves

2 ½ tbsp plain flour

175ml beef stock

1tbsp redcurrant jelly

3 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp fresh thyme

2 tins chopped tomatoes

The Leader:

For the white sauce:

1 litre milk

1 carrot

75g butter

75g plain flour

1 stick celery

1 shallot

75g cheddar cheese

25g parmesan

3 tsp Dijon mustard

8 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf


For the ragu:

1. Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan assisted)

2. Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery and crush the garlic and place to one side

3. Heat a very large frying pan or sauté pan (this pan needs to be able to go into the oven, if you don’t have one use a casserole dish) on a high heat and add a dash of olive oil

4. Brown the mince and transfer to a plate or bowl

5. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and turn the heat down slightly, cook the veg until they have gone soft but do not brown

6. Add the mince back to the pan with the veg and sprinkle over the plain flour and stir it in

7. Add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce to the pan and bring to the boil

8. Add the redcurrant jelly, tomato puree and thyme leaves

9. Stir in the canned tomatoes and bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper then cover with a lid and put it in the oven for 1 ½ - 2 hours. Stirring halfway through

10. Whilst the ragu is cooking make the white sauce – roughly chop the carrot (no need to peel), celery and shallot and add to the milk along with the bay leaf and peppercorns

For the white sauce:

11. Heat the milk in the microwave for 3 minutes and then leave to infuse for as long as possible (you will need to start making the white sauce around 30mintues before the ragu is due to be finished)

12. When ready to make the white sauce heat a large saucepan over a medium to high heat and melt the butter

13. Once it starts to bubble add in the plain flour and mix in well. Allow to cook for a minute until it starts to turn a light brown colour

14. Get a sieve ready and pour around 100ml of the milk through the sieve (to catch the aromats in the milk) into the pan, mix together and then beat together with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth paste. The milk should absorb into the flour completely

15. Repeat this process until all the milk is used. Each time you should mix the milk in so that it is completely smooth. The consistency should be that of a custard at the end, if it’s a little thick add a bit more milk, if the mixture reaches this consistency before you use up all your milk, stop early

16. Add the Dijon mustard, cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese and stir until the cheeses have melted and remove from the heat

The Leader:

Building the lasagne:

17. To build the lasagne get your ragu, white sauce, lasagne sheets and salt and pepper ready

18. Use a deep ovenproof dish, mine is around 28cm x 22cm and 10cm deep

19. Put a layer of ragu in first (around a quarter), season with salt and pepper, followed by a layer of white sauce (also a quarter) then a layer of lasagne sheets. Don’t worry if there are gaps in the white sauce or if you have to snap some lasagne sheets or overlap some to make them fit

20. Repeat this process until all the ragu and white sauce is used but finish with the white sauce layer (do not put the lasagne sheets on the final layer)

21. Top the lasagne with grated cheddar cheese, once cool cover with clingfilm or foil and leave for at least 8 hours (I prefer to make mine and put it in the fridge ready for the next day)

22. When ready to cook heat the oven to 200 degrees, remove any foil or clingflim from the top of the lasagne and cook for around 40-50mins until the cheese is brown and the middle is hot

23. Serve with garlic bread and a side salad.