I know what you’re all thinking. “Why is this guy who writes about celebrity endorsed food products doing a blog post on a Carluccio’s lasagne? Everyone knows Antonio Carluccio sold the majority of his share of the company back in 2005 and, apart from a minor interest, the chef doesn’t really have anything to do with the company, except have his surname attached to it.”. You probably then went on thinking “If Antonio sold pretty much all his stake in the company, and doesn’t have his photo on the box, then the chance of him having anything to do with creating the recipe for this particular ready meal is about equal to Ronald McDonald (a fictional clown) working out the meat content of a McDonalds beef patty.”.
If after having had all those thoughts, you are still reading… then welcome and thanks for sticking with me. The truth is I don’t really have a defence for the above, you are probably right. But I guess Carluccio’s are still trading on Antonio’s name, even if he is making next to nothing from it, so that makes it fair game, and as they now have a range in the supermaket I decided to give it a go.
The packaging, whilst in line with Carluccio’s restaurant branding, looks very “Pizza Express” on the shelf. I guess the go to colours for high street Italian chains must be dark blue with white writing and let’s be fair it hasn’t done Pizza Express or Carluccio’s any harm. It looks nice too.
The instructions said the lasagne would take between 35 and 40 mins to cook, I baked it for 35 and it was fine, the extra 5 mins wouldn’t have done any harm getting it a bit browner on top, but I was hungry and happy to make the sacrifice. The ragu was made with a mixture of beef and pork and tasted good. The meat seemed to be of a good quality and was nicely ground. The tomato sauce was fine, but nothing special, it lacked depth of flavour and I think the “splash of Chianti” was just that, a splash. The wine failed to give the sauce any dimension meaning it just tasted tomatoey and a bit bitter. The egg pasta was also a let down, it was foamy and floppy, I guess partly to being poor quality pasta, and partly as it was overcooked, a bit more bite to it would have been super, however I have had much worse. When I was younger and far less discerning we used to have a Tesco’s own microwave lasagne, the pasta in that was so gross it dissolved into wallpaper paste on your tongue.
All that being said, the lasagne wasn’t bad; sure it could have been better, but it could have been a lot, lot worse.
Carluccio’s Lasagne Al Forno £6 for 735g (Currently 20% off at Sainsbury’s)