Whenever I travel to Brisbane, I try to find time to visit Il Centro to devour a slice of this delectable dish. The recipe was devised by Brisbane chef Gillian Hirst and is truly is one of my most favourite restaurant dishes EVER.
Luckily for me, I found the recipe posted online, which means I can eat this anytime without have to travel 1000km. Secondly, and most happily, making it myself means I can use gluten-free lasagna sheets.
I was so pleased with how this dish turned out. The homemade version had a little more tomato flavour than the original but we actually preferred this as it cut through some of the richness and gave a little more oomph.
I purchased frozen crabmeat from my local fish monger, instead of spending hours picking meat from fresh crabs (really … life is too short for that). However, you should be prepared to fork out a bit of $$ for the convenience.
I adapted the original recipe to make it gluten-free by using thickened cream instead of Bechamel sauce. You can easily search the web for the original version, whereby you can find instructions to make it with Bechamel, but I wouldn’t bother, it’s so much easier and less palava to use cream.
As for calories, you probably need a nutritionist to evaluate which is a greater evil – plain cream vs Bechamel made from butter, milk and flour. My advice here…if you are watching your weight, close down this blog entry and read no further. This is a non-healthy calorie laden recipe, to be made for special occasions !!!!
I used good quality pre-purchased fish stock (Tasmanian Mures brand) but felt it didn’t give the restaurant bisque like flavour required. I suggest making your own stock with crab shells or prawn shells/heads. I also added a little honey as the sauce in the original restaurant dish has quite a notable sweetness to it.
300g crab meat
300ml thickened cream
1 heaped tblspn grated parmesan cheese
10ml olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1/2 clove garlic
400g can Italian tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt and a grind of pepper
1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped Instant Lasagna sheets (gluten-free)
500ml fish stock
60ml white wine
300ml thickened cream
3 tsp tomato paste
½ – 1 tsp honey
1. Fry onion and garlic with oil until softened, add the tomatoes and fresh herbs, sugar and salt. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down and most of the liquid has evaporated (around 20min). Set aside to cool.
2, Meanwhile thaw the crab meat if frozen and drain excess liquid.
3. Mix through 1 tblspn of the cream into the crab and mix to loosen the meat.
4. In a separate bowl mix the rest of the cream with the parmesan.
5. In a suitable baking tray, add a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom and top with lasagna sheets. Add a layer of crab, then top with some of the cream/cheese mix. Drizzle some tomato sauce over and top with lasagna sheets.
6. Continue layers… crab, cream, tomato and lasagna sheets – finishing with cream/cheese mix. I used two lasagna sheets and built 4 layers of sheets in total (ie 8 all up). Don’t worry if the tomato/cream starts to ooze out the sides of your stacks.
7. Bake at 180C for around 50-55mins, until the top is golden brown and the lasagna sheets are cooked. Once cooked remove from the oven and cover with foil and let stand for 5mins before serving.
8. Meanwhile while the lasagna is cooking, make the sauce. Firstly vigoroursly boil the stock and wine in a pan until it reduces to half (1 cup)
9. Add the cream and cook down until mix thickens and becomes a sauce. Add the tomato paste, honey and season with a little sea salt. Taste for balance it should taste a bit like a bisque with a hint of sweetness.
The process for making the sauce will take nearly an hour (the time it takes to cook the lasagna).
10. Serve the lasagna slices on a bed of sauce.
N.B. I halved the original recipe. This will give you 4 palm size servings or 2 big serves. Serve with a green salad.