2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
800 g beef mince
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 thyme sprigs
3 rosemary sprigs
3 bay leaves
2 x 400 g cans chopped tomatoes
1 glass red wine
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp sugar
5 large eggplants, sliced lengthways into 5 mm
2 x 125 g balls mozzarella, torn into small chunks
50 g Parmesan, grated
250 g tub mascarpone
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or flameproof casserole dish. Add the mince and brown over a high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as you go. (You may need to do this in batches.) Once well browned, tip onto a plate.
- Add the remaining oil, the garlic and herbs to the pan and gently cook for 1 min. Tip in the tomatoes and red wine, and bring to a simmer, stirring up any meaty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Return the mince to the pan, crumble in the stock cube, and add sugar and seasoning. Gently simmer for at least 1 hr, stirring occasionally, splashing in more water to keep it saucy if you need to. If you have time to simmer for longer, go for it – the longer the better. Fish out the herb stalks and bay leaves.
- Meanwhile, heat a chargrill or frying pan over medium heat. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil, then cook in batches. You want each slice softened and slightly charred, so don’t have the heat too high or the eggplant will char before softening. Remove to a plate as you go.
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Set aside some of each cheese to go on top. In a large casserole dish, spread a spoonful of mince over the base. Top with a layer of sauce, then a layer of eggplants and season well. Spoon over more sauce, then scatter over some mozzarella, Parmesan and blobs of mascarpone. Add another layer of eggplants and some seasoning. Repeat, layering everything up, and finish with a layer of meat sauce. Top with your reserved cheese and bake for 30-40 mins until the top is crisp and golden, and the mince is bubbling.