Monday, July 6, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Lasagna

It is amazing how much one good meal can do for your general well-being. Life has felt a little grim around here lately. Then last night, came a restorative dinner out with some of my closest girlfriends: good food, a glass or two of wine and non-stop chat about lives, loves, books, kids, plus everything important and frivolous in our lives. It was the perfect mid-winter balm, and has left me feeling very blessed to have such lovely friends around me. An evening that left me feeling nurtured both by the food and the company and today, the world feels a much warmer place.....

This lasagna is definitely good warming winter food. To me, lasagna looks like an unmade bed, and I mean that in a good way. Relaxed, warm, comforting, soft, easy. This recipe has been calling to me from a recent issue of Gourmet magazine. It was the second part of a "four meals from two chickens" feature, but because I jumped in at step 2, I bought a pre-cooked BBQ chicken, and just stripped off the skin and pulled out the bones to get enough cooked shredded chicken (in fact, I used more than the recipe called for). The recipe is not too involved - just make the white sauce, keep half plain then mix in the chicken and mushrooms to the other half. Layer the sauces and noodles and bake. My only change was using cheddar instead of gruyere, because one of the girls is a bit unenthusiastic about cheese and gruyere is a bit too pungent for her. I think that may have been a mistake - I would love to make this again with the gruyere for an even cheesier taste. Maybe I'll convince her?

Cheesy Chicken and Mushroom Lasagne (serves 4)
from Gourmet, March 2009

300g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 roast chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded (about 2 1/4 cups),
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
12 Barilla no-boil egg lasagne noodles
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère

Preheat oven to 210C with rack in middle.
Cook mushrooms, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper in oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer briskly 2 minutes. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl and stir in chicken. (Set aside saucepan.)

Bring milk to a bare simmer in another saucepan. Melt remaining 4 Tbsp butter in the large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook to make a roux, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Add hot milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Add thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and divide the mixture, reserving 1 cup sauce separately. Stir parmesan into the remaining sauce, then stir into mushroom filling.

Pour half of reserved plain sauce into a 20cm squre baking pan, spreading evenly to coat bottom. Add 3 lasagne sheets, overlapping slightly, and one third of mushroom filling, spreading evenly, then sprinkle one fourth of Gruyère over top. Repeat 2 times. Top with remaining 3 lasagne sheets and remaining plain sauce, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with remaining Gruyère.

Cover with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top of lasagne but sealing all around edge, and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese is golden, about 15 minutes more. Let lasagne stand 10 minutes before serving.


Debinhawaii said...

It looks like the perfect comfort food--delicious! Love that you can make it simply too.

Anonymous said...

This looks wonderful..