Beef Cheek Ragu Lasagne

A luxe version from Alpino in Mount Maunganui.

Alpino is an Italian restaurant in Mount Maunganui that's known for its pizza and other delicious faves, such as this luxurious, flavour-packed lasagne that’s perfect for winter.

Serves 6–8
Beef cheek ragu

1–1.2kg beef cheek (3-4 cheeks), trimmed of all silver skin

½ bottle (325ml) red wine

4 tbsp canola oil

2 carrots, diced

1 red onion, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp thyme, chopped

1 tsp rosemary, chopped

1 dried bay leaf

1L beef stock

3 cans chopped tomatoes

Balsamic vinegar


Lasagne sheets

50g grated yellow mozzarella

Béchamel sauce

1 onion, diced

3 sticks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

75g butter

50g plain flour

1 litre whole milk

125g grated parmesan, plus 50g grated for assembly

Place the beef cheeks in a bowl with the red wine and ideally marinate overnight. Remove cheeks from wine, reserving wine, and pat dry. Heat a fry pan over medium-high heat, add canola oil
then fry the cheeks on both sides until just browned. Remove from pan. Add carrots, onion, celery, garlic, herbs and bay leaf, and quickly fry until beginning to brown. Add the reserved wine and stir
to scrape off any bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the
wine starts to become a little syrupy — this should take about 5–10 minutes. Add stock and tomato, bring to the boil and cook for 20–30 minutes or until it tastes awesome.

Preheat oven to 120°C. Place sauce and cheeks snugly into a baking dish, cover with baking
paper and a tight tin foil lid. Cook in oven for 4 hours or until cheeks are tender and soft.
Allow to cool slightly so that there isn’t too much steam.

Remove cheeks to a dish, then pour the sauce into a saucepan and bring to the boil over
medium heat. Cook for about 20–30 minutes or until it has reached a thick soup consistency.
Skim any fat off the top as it cooks. Shred warm beef cheeks with a fork. Combine with sauce
once completed, then adjust flavour with balsamic, sugar and salt to taste.  

For the bechamel sauce, add onion, celery, garlic and butter to a small saucepan with a pinch
of salt, then cook over a low heat until soft but not coloured. Add flour and cook for 5 minutes,
stirring occasionally. Gradually add milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until you have
a smooth sauce. Once all milk is added, cook for 15 minutes or until there isn’t a floury taste
to the sauce. Stir in the parmesan and cook for five minutes, then add truffle paste to finish,
if using. Sieve, discarding solids, and season with salt.

To assemble: If made in advance, gently reheat everything so it’s warm. Butter a deep baking
dish then line with pasta, followed by half the ragu, more pasta, half the grated parmesan,
half the bechamel sauce, then repeat layers ending with a final layer of lasagne and grated mozzarella. Cook lasagne in the oven at 175°C for about 40 minutes or until golden on top.
Leave to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Alpino
Photography by ilk